I Stand Amazed


Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
   he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Proverbs 3:6, The Message 

As I write this, a bit of the disbelief and wonder still surrounds me at the circumstances which brought about my sudden retirement from the company where I had spent the last 20 years. If you would have told me a month ago I would be sitting here writing this with my career at Intel behind me, I would have said you were crazy. I had been thinking about it, praying about it, wrestling with it seriously over for the past year, and had even set a date for December or January of this year. I just didn’t think it would be this soon.

And so many times, I had held this verse in my heart and tried to live it, asking God for a definitive Yes or No, Yea or Nay, some kind of deciding factor that would push me one way or another and let me have the confidence I wanted to know I had made the right decision. And then, this……

We had all heard rumors about the layoffs and cuts at Intel, but of course we had weathered all these before. Yet this time, soon after the announcement was made, the roll-out was swift. Suddenly, people we had worked with for years were gone. Everyone was a bit shell-shocked. And then I got the enhanced retirement offer and I knew it was what I had been praying for just a month before. And it was more than I could have hoped for.

And I stand amazed at how good God is. And not because it worked out for me, but because God is always good. Yet sometimes, He does something that so flat-out astounds you with His timing and how perfect it is you know without a doubt it came from Him. I want to stress that it’s nothing I did. There is no formula ever, to guarantee things will fall in line with how we pray. I don’t believe in that kind of gospel.

What I do believe is that sometimes God rewards the one who clings to His word and hangs on for dear life even when there is no evidence whatsoever that an answer lies just beyond the bend.

Here is what I wrote in my prayer journal today:

Thank you God. You fill me with wonder. You became a flesh and blood God well acquainted with suffering and grief and tears and yet still vast and unknowable and full of mystery; able to create this whole universe with a word. I stand amazed that you died because you wanted to save my life and you thought that maybe if you did that, we could have a chance to be together forever. You removed the intimidation factor that might have kept us apart and you brought me near at the foot of the cross. You confounded the minds of the best and the brightest in your short time on earth and shattered their hearts because when they came face to face with you, they knew what they lacked was not intelligence or religion but love. You made them see that all their efforts were worthless because they were blinded by the pride that didn’t let them see you for who you were. Forgive me Lord for those times when love gets left out of my own actions. You have led me with patience and love and picked me up when I could go no further so many times. Thank you for loving me even in my great weakness and failure and for your grace that is greater than all my sin. I stand amazed.

So now I am on this different path and it’s scary at times, but I know He’s got us. It’s a new chapter and I find comfort in the fact that He will be in this next one as well. He was gracious enough to let me make my personal goal of 20 years with the company and reward me at the end.

I stand amazed.

What Matters Most


This week at work was a challenge. People had emergencies and had to leave midweek, and some were on vacations. All told, we were stretched thin. Another lady and myself toiled at our workstations for three 12 hour shifts with only a few short breaks. By the time I finished last night, my mind was still spinning like a top. I was so eager to get out I left my scarf behind which I never do.

I was so locked into myself at work I barely talked, barely joked. I felt more robot than human. But on the way home last night……There was sky, and cool breeze, and a hint of rain. I drove by restaurants and people were spilling out onto the sidewalks and patios, seated at tables with their drinks and food, casually talking, laughing. Being people.

One of the moments I was able to step out in the fresh air during the week, one of the things I thought about was that life is tragically unbalanced. We have slivers of time outside, in God’s beautiful creation and big chunks of time in artificial surroundings with artificial light and artificial air sucking the life out of us. And I think if we were honest, somehow we all sense we are under a curse. That things are not as they should be.

And the thing is? I can’t get the previous 36 hours back. But I can change how I do things. I can redeem the time I have left, however much of it there is. We say life is short, but do we believe it? Yesterday a card was circulated for a man we work with who lost his year old Grandson to drowning. Time………moments, years we always think we will have more of.

The older I get, the more I realize that there are only a couple of things we really need to learn before we leave this place, and none of the schools of higher learning can teach it. It’s that behind every beautiful mountain vista, every glorious sunset on the beach, every bend in the road, there have been the people standing next to me that matter even more.  As I look back on all the most wonderful moments of my life, there was someone standing next to me with eyes alight, saying, “Will you look at that!” And if it happened that there was no one standing right next to me, I always knew God was.

Even in tragedy and deepest sadness there were moments of hope against hope, laughter  that leaked through. Right after I lost my husband and we were all gathered together at my brother’s house doling out Xanax so we could sleep. Someone said they had more than someone else and we all had a giggling fit through our tears.

Of all the lessons God wants us to get before we leave this place is that the people matter more than anything. And even before that, that God is a people too. and if we get Him wrong, nothing else matters. I guess another way to say it, since God is love is that if we get Love wrong, we get everything else wrong.

Ultimately, how we perceive Him will determine where we spend the rest of eternity in that place where the curse is lifted forever. And sorrow and sighing are only a distant memory.


Of Iphones and Idols……


Just the other day I was sitting at my workstation glancing idly at my IPhone and one of our bosses asked me if I was “one of those people” hooked on social media. I had to pause for a moment and smile remembering the time B.I. (Before iPhone/iPad) entered my life. And I confess, I caught myself feeling a little bit defensive, like tiny little fists were rising up from somewhere inside. “Well, I used to” I said, “when I first got my iPhone.”

I remember the day clearly. She was going out to get a new cell phone and asked what I wanted since both of us were on the same phone plan. “Oh,” I said,  “I don’t care, just get me a cheapo. I really don’t use the one I have.” At that time I had a little flip phone which was red and cute and mostly it just layed there unless it rang.

About 2 hours later, she came home triumphant and smiling, white Apple store baggies swinging from each arm. She held them aloft and despite myself I was curious.”I got one for you too!” She said. I opened the box and It gleamed at me from its little resting place. It could have been my imagination but I think it might have winked at me.

We were like little kids. well, mostly I was. Me, miss “I don’t care what you get” had turned into a full-fledged IPhone junky. These weren’t just cell phones, these were iPhones after all. The portent of change was crackling in the air.

Finally, I had it in my possession; all backed up, synced and ready to use, I felt a little bit like Mary Lennox when she first discovered the Secret Garden. This was a window to an entirely new world. I was enraptured with all the Apps I could get. And they were free for goodness sake.

I jumped in with both feet. Or both thumbs as it were. I was texting for the first time in my life. This was better than shopping. I got an Instagram account, then I joined Twitter. Later I discovered Pinterest and before I knew it I had over 3000 pins. I got an iPad for my Birthday. I was irrevocably hooked.

I kept trying to convince my Mom that technology and computers are not the Antichrist. When I went back home I would show her things to prove my point. She didn’t budge; though I did sense a weakening in her resolve when I showed her the You Version Bible App.

It was all wonderful until the day my best friend looked up at me with a hurt expression. “We don’t talk anymore.” She had been suffering in silence, carrying a burden I could have helped her bear, but I was too busy to see it. That pulled me up short.

After that I learned to keep a more balanced perspective. I have backed off from some things. Along the way I have learned that technology and social media have indeed enriched my life in ways I never expected. But all things in moderation. Technology is not evil in itself, despite what some believe. Like anything else, it has tremendous capacity to be used for good and evil.

With the help of technology and social media, we have the added blessing of casting our net a bit wider and extending our circle of Grace. It’s a wonderful thing. But it must never come at the expense of the people in our lives. The ones we live with, the ones who need to know we are still there.

I’m sharing this story as part of The High Calling’s community link-up. You can add your voice to the “Technology at Work” conversation here.

Photo credit: www.Icanhascheeseburger.com

The Magic Bus


She’ll be the one they reach back into their memories for long after they’ve been out of school. They’ll remember something she said that made all the difference. They’ll say: “There was this one bus driver I had in school. She listened to me when nobody else in my life did. She didn’t just talk at me, she talked to me and when there wasn’t much laughter going on in my world, she made me laugh too.”

Haven’t we all said something like that about a favorite teacher, a counselor, bus driver? Someone who reached out and dared to treat you not just as a kid, or a student, but a fellow human being worthy of respect. Respecting each other as well as respecting her is one of the expectations, one of her golden rules on the bus. Another one is that riding the bus is a privilege, not a right. And that her number one priority is to keep them safe.

She also makes it a point to be on time. She knows how important dependability is for the child who waits for a parent who may never show up. She knows how you can carry that disappointment well into your adult years.

Last year, there were singers on the bus, and she encouraged them to try out their songs on her. Then there were the times she cranked up the radio and they all sang. Teachers and principals alike would be standing slack-jawed at the bus stop, hearing the singing pouring out the bus windows. They’d say, “I don’t remember this ever happening before.”

She knows the importance and the power of being a positive presence in a world that to a kid can be a scary unsettled place. She rewards their good behavior and doesn’t hesitate to discipline when it’s necessary, but most of all, she tries to get them to understand and figure out the reasons why for themselves. She encourages them to think about the consequences for their actions before they act, instead of just reacting.

She goes out of her way to understand even the “hard cases” to try to find the root cause for their behavior. She talks to exasperated parents who are at their wit’s end, and she works with them to see how they can work together. And many times the parents tell her that the topic of the dinner table the night before was is “what Miss Elaine said and did on the bus that day.”

She doesn’t leave her faith at home and even though you can’t talk about Jesus in school, she doesn’t have to; she just does her best to love them as He would. To see them as He sees us all, as who we are becoming.

Last night, she brought this gift home from a grateful parent and I didn’t even notice the verse on it until this morning…….


And I expect she will come home with homemade cards and gifts from the kids. And more stories like this one:

There were two little girls, maybe kindergarten age sitting next to each other playing a clapping game, “Clap on, clap off….” Like the clapper on TV. When they started chanting, “Lights on, lights off” she saw an opportunity to have a little fun. Every time they said “lights off” she flicked the lights off and every time they said, “lights on” she turned them on again. (They didn’t know there was a switch right by the seat). The first time it happened, they shrieked, “Did you see that???” They did it again, and she flicked the lights again. Then the whole busload got involved. Of course when all the kids clapped, nothing happened, it was only when the girls did it.

They bounded off the bus, chanting “We have magic powers, we have magic powers!”

As Christians, we may not have magic powers at our disposal but we have something even better. We have an awesome opportunity to bring God’s love into our work place with the help and limitless power of the Holy Spirit. God calls our work Holy, whatever we do. So often, we place so much importance on what we do, whether it measures up with what the world finds worthy. The truth is: God doesn’t care what we do, as long as we do it as unto Him.

All of our work has tremendous potential to change everyone in our circle that means, every job is important.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:23-24


Job Changes: Moving out of comfort


It was the year 2003 and I was sitting comfortably at my workstation up on the factory floor at the company where I had worked since 1996. I had settled into a somewhat comfortable groove having been at my current position for a year, but it was pretty stressful so I thought maybe I’d put in for a change.

There was an interest form floating around inviting people to transfer over to the neighboring site to work on a ramp up for a new technology. I thought maybe I’d fill it out.

After all, it was only an interest form, not a transfer. I filled it out and pushed “send” and off it sailed to the appropriate website for review. I had a momentary sense of unease which I shrugged off…….read the rest of story over here at Devoted Conversations where I have the privilege of sharing today!

Kingdom Work is whatever we do


Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” Colossians 3:23

I make my way down the stairs, heavy bag slipping off my shoulders and cast myself into the sea of voices. I dodge bleary eyed people like myself intent on one of two things, coffee or food. The great migration of mammals to those canisters filled with magic to wake the senses, spark the brain to life.

I pause by the fruit bins, the fresh offerings they give us to entice us to eat better, to be healthier so we can feel better so we can work harder. I pause, my phone at the ready, wanting to capture it all, this teeming life that flows down around my ears right now.

I hear the opening strains of Billy Joel’s “River of Dreams” and for just one moment, with the backdrop of voices and back slapping and greeting, I feel like life is pulsating around me. And though it’s so close, I feel I am standing on the shore. Not quite in. Not quite out. What would it feel like to feel fully in? Here.

All in like poker.

I wander, looking at angles, how I would photograph the fruit bins, the sign hand scrawled suggestions. The cafe workers, everyone else. This wondering and wandering is part of what makes me, me. All I want is to go back to my station and write……..of this life.

I make my way to the coffee and wonder why it is that donuts always look so much better than fruit. I window shop and watch plates sailing by. Breakfast burritos, pastries, plate piled high with eggs, bacon and English muffins. I take nothing, remembering the banana I brought and the cottage cheese waiting in the sack I so hastily threw together this morning.

Still, I watch, I observe. I wonder.

How it would feel to be fully engaged? Here. 

If I were here to take pictures, or talk about writing or my faith how easy it would be. Oh, I am engaged. I am here, I am early, I am ready to work. People on the other end of the phone tell me they am glad I am here. I sense their confidence in me………Still.

To be fully engaged is: eyes wide open, pulse quickening, fully focused, doing the thing God created you to do engaged.

For 18 years I have been less than fully engaged and that makes me wonder who or what I have robbed.

When I was back home I said, “I wonder what kind of world it would be if everyone loved their jobs?” My Dad said, “I wonder how it would be if people just wanted to work?” Maybe he’s right. People didn’t think about liking their jobs in his day. They just got up and went to work no matter what, to support their families.

Maybe he’s right. Maybe I think too much. Maybe we all do.

And yet, at this job at which I am less than fully engaged, there are people God has wanted me to impact, and people God wanted to impact me. Lives colliding not by accident but by Divine Appointment. He has held me here for a purpose, that I know. And this job has stretched me in ways nothing else could.

It has thrown me out of my comfort zone over and over again, so that I had no choice but to depend on Him.

And in these 18 years of twelve hour days I have carved out a livelihood, a gift God has set before me. And in those 12 hours of each day I get two hours to do what I want. Who else has that?

And somewhere, sometime, God will show me what my real job was here. And it will have nothing to do with building computer chips. It will have everything to do with contributing to people and building a kingdom.


What it means to work as “Unto the Lord”


Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men……Colossians 3:23

I just have to brag on my best friend a little bit here. I known her for 24 years now and for as long as I have known her, she has put her heart and soul into every job, every task she undertakes. She doesn’t just “do a job” she changes the environment where she works for the better. She gets involved. Sometimes she has to pull back because she actually gets too involved in the lives of the people she works with and for. She gives herself away until it hurts. She refuses to stay on the sidelines.
She doesn’t just “do her job and go home.”
She confessed with tears glistening in her eyes just the other night that she doesn’t tell me everything about what she observes from the children she picks up, and what she hears. Some of it is heartbreaking, the things she sees. She takes their burdens as her own. She talks to the kids not at the kids. She doesn’t let them get by with disrespecting her, each other, or themselves.
And as you can see by this letter, they love her for it. And because they know she cares, they confide in her which is sometimes a mixed blessing.
Her co-workers know that all they have to do to find her is listen for the laughter that follows her wherever she goes. Finding the humor in any given situation is something many people do not know how to do and it is the one thing she has been able to do throughout her life, which has not always been easy.
Even one of the parents confessed, “I want you to know, you are the topic of many of our dinner conversations.” The kids tell their parents the lessons they have learned on Miss Elaine’s bus that day. She rewards good behavior and doesn’t overlook bad behavior, but more than that, she seeks to understand why they are acting up and she makes them think about what they are doing and why they are doing it.
And when Miss Elaine has to stop the bus, they know she means business. She is part counselor, part friend, part taskmaster, part teacher……and I have no doubt that she would put her own life on the line if it meant saving those kids.
It has been a hard two years for her, being a full-time caretaker for her Mom, and in many ways she says, “This job saved my life.”
And sometimes, at just the right time, God rewards your hard work and dedication and it pays off in a big way. Sometimes, you get assurance that you are doing it right.
****side note: she is fond of calling her kids her little brussel sprouts, maybe this little girl couldn’t remember that. I love how she picked another vegetable****