Thorns among the Barbs

Thoughts on my journey to heaven

Archive for February 2009

More visions of night shift

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Every other weekend I work 3rd shift for the advice line and during that weekend my circadian rhythms are thrown off completely.  Such is the case again.  The night shift has one big fat hour to go… and it is done.  But the down side is that in 2 hours I start my regular job, and work all day.  I have been trying to learn better habits to prepare for the sleep deprivation, and the rebound…. But this weekend I was having problems.  Saturday night went slowly, and by 6:30AM  I was all but nodding off in my chair.  I came home hoping to stay awake to go to church, but once I layed down for a quick nap the hopes of church faded away and i slept until almost 4pm.  While I felt rested at that time, 13 hours later I am reallly longing for an hour nap…

All things work together for the good for them who are called according to his purpose – yes, even these crazy night shift hours, listening to people who refuse to take responsibility for their own health decisions and care…. this is all part of what God is doing in me.  He is reminding me that I have gotten myself into a financial pickle… and the only way out is through it.  Sacrifice now to begin to correct behavior, and bills.  So with each tick of the night shift clock I thank god for the opportunity to make a living, for breath, and for the wisdom that comes from him in all matters.

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Written by Barbara Bloom

February 16, 2009 at 5:40 AM

Questions from the work world

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When I was young it seemed that everyone from my parents on down to teachers drilled into my head how important education is, and how if you work hard, learn alot and do well in school you will be rewarded with a good job, a sizable income and satisfaction that your skils are being used.  I love that concept, embracing it whole heartedly.  Before I graduated high school I was spending time at a college taking a few advanced classes.  And I worked hard, got my bachelors.  And I worked at a full time job and discovered my employer would pay for my masters.  So I worked even harder and completed my masters degree with the belief that my hard work would pay off.  But that belief was not shared by my employer, and in fact, my education has become a detriment to my growth in the company.   And rather than recognizing the “home grown” talent it seems my company prefers to hire from without. 

OK, so I got that off my chest.  It is a weight I don;t want to bear.  But it reminds me of  a story that I just heard.  I don;t know if it is true, but here goes:

The Wisdom of Hot Chocolate

A group of graduates, well established in their careers, were discussing their lives at a class reunion.  They decided to govisit their old university professor, now retired, who was always an inspiration to them.

During their visit, the conversation turned to complaints about stress in their work, lives and relationships.

Offering his guests hot chocolate, the professor went into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot chocolate and an assortment of cups.  Some cups were porcelain, glass, crystal and some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite.  He invited each guest to help themselves to the hot chocolate.

When they all had a cup of hot chocolate in hand the professor shared his thoughts:

“Notice that all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones.  While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.  The cup that you are drinking from adds nothing to the quality of the hot chocolate.  In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink.”

“What each of you really wanted was hot chocolate.  You did not want the cup . . . but you consciously went for the best cups. And soon, you began to eye one another’s cups. ”

“Now friends, please consider this. . . Life is the hot chocolate.  Your job, money and position in society are just the cups.   They are just tools to hold and contain life.  The cup you have does not define, nor does it change, the quality of life you are living.  Sometimes by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the hot chocolate God has provided us.  ”

“Always remember this. . . God brews the hot chocolate, He does not choose the cup. The happiest people don;t have the best of everything.  They just make the best of everything they have! “

Somewhere in this midlife mind I still want the best of a cup, the most lavish, and extravagent choice for my life…. the power job, the big 6 figure income, my bills all paid… but this little story reminded me that Life is not about all of that.  It is best found in a loving home with a godly spouse, and simple pleasures like knowing that you are loved. 

Prayer – Lord, today would you please search through my mind and my heart and put them right with your word.  Take from me the selfish desires to be what you did not design me to be.  And show me today what your plan is for my life,  For I know that where you send me you will make provisions for me.  And grant me to know peace with accepting this and not straying from the plan to ask for more, different or anything beyond what I should know.  Amen.

Written by Barbara Bloom

February 14, 2009 at 5:41 AM

Posted in growth, Lessons learned

Could I be Lutheran?

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We have been searching for a more permanent church home for some time.   And it is challenging to find a place that meets our hopes of a God fearing pastor that preaches the word,  a bible study that builds on the word,  and friendly and loving people and people who have a accepting open heart for new faces.  We have found one, or two of these components, but not generally all of them together.  Some churches we visited were huge, and sunday worship was like a cattle drive, 3-4 times over each sunday.  The preaching was phenominal there, and the worship was good, but I felt invisible and lost in the crowd.  Other churches had warm people but the preaching was like watered down baby food with no challenge or application to living.  And so a neighbor asked us to visit their Lutheran church.  Lutheran, Huh, Well Martin Luther was certainly the driving force for change in the church, and the reformation God began through him was powerful and carries on these many centuries later.  Why not! 

So we visited and the church service was more formal than Iwould like.  But the preaching, while more of a quick overview, was good.  They spoke of sin, and of death, and of Christ and of his atoning sacrifice.  This was good.  And the bible study class was better – there was passion for the Lord, there was a hunger to honor God there.  Wow, believers wanting to grow, hungry to obey.  This was really good.  So we are visiting with an open mind, considering the options and listening to the Lord about his desires for our lives.

So perhaps Lutheran is it. 

But the funny thing is after 15 years of inner city ministry at a non denominational church I have known diversity, and I have sensed God’s presence in loud gospel music, and quiet and proper violin solos…. There has been a freedom to worship, to lift your hand, or sing off key.  And that freedom I have not found again in this quest for a home.  Perhaps it will never come until heaven.  But I yearn for those times when your eyes and your mind and your heart were focused to heaven, and earth became a distant failt gilmmer as the glory of god mainfest in the praise.

So the question is this.  Why does God give us gimpses of heaven, only to have us return to this sin scarred earth again and search again for another moment transported to his throne.  God has been good to me in my walk with him.  He has lifted me up and seen me through the challenges of burying family and friends, and he has allowed the opportunity to begin ministry, only to show me that ministry is his work, as he pries my hands from the task.  He has given me vision for what will build the kingdom, but the vision is not always tmely, and he shows me that I am not always the one to see the fulfilment of the vision.  I sometimes identify with David, believing that there are ordained purposes for my life, but something in my life reduces God’s usefulness of me.

All things are in your hands, my father, and again, as a small child who needs direction, encouragement and purpose I come to you.  I lay my life before you and again offer everything to you… my mind, my heart, my hands, my feet, my eyes, my ears.  Take my life lord and let it be concicrated only to thee.  May you lead us to a place where we can worship you with our lives, our talents, our breath.  And may we glory in you as we search for your will with a home church, with our purpose and with our very souls.  Faithful is he who called us.  Amen”

Written by Barbara Bloom

February 10, 2009 at 2:03 PM

Posted in daily life, growth, prayer

Rantings of a tired 3rd shift worker.

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I try hard not to judge anyone, but sometimes I think that my “Beaver Cleaver” upbringing clashes drastically with the clueless entitlement crowd of our day.   I absolutely dislike wilful ignorance – in our day and age there is no reason to be ignorant.  There are opportunities to learn, to grow, to become something better all around us.  But some people prefer to expect that people will hand them everything on a silver platter.

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I started this shift exhausted from 3 days of double shifts and very little sleep.  My heart was not really in this work tonight.  I must be frank when I say that fielding endless calls about babies that vomited, and grown people who have the sniffles – which seems to constitute near death emergencies in their mind and fill up our emergency rooms with unnecessary volume, dragging down the staff, depleting the resources that should be dedicated to caring for emergent health concerns like heart attacks, strokes, and the like is very exhausting work. 

So I am tired, and so I have grown weary of the ills of an undeucated, illiterate society that lives side by side with those of us who learned early in life to establish a family doctor, and call on him or her when our sniffles, coughs, and normal life maladies came along.  We took responsibility for our colds and made pots of chicken soup, and rested, and doctored ourself and we knew when to call our family physician.  In fact I can only remember one visit to the emergency room as a child and that was because I clearly broke a limb playing and rough housing with a neighbor kid. 

And when we got antibiotics we allowed them to time to get into the system and take effect.  Sometimes it was a week, or longer, but we knew that the only thing to do was go through the illness.   OK, Our moms went to a local pharmacy, where they were on a first name basis with the “druggist” and he usually offered guidance on over the counter helps. 

And we went to bed, or were put to bed early to rest, to get enough sleep so that we would feel better.  Not like those callers at 3am that have their wild band of indians jumping on beds, shouting at the top of their lungs while mom is trying to demand rediculous things of an advice line in the middle of the night.

We are the responsible citizens of a nation that is growing less functional, and giving way to the crumbling nature of a welfare nation overrunning and overburdening everyone else. 

If I could speak my mind on that phone I would say a few honest comments:

  • Read about what babys should be like, and find out about common illnesses of childhood before they are born. 
  • Find an older woman to mentor you as a mom.
  • Get a doctor – establish with one, call them when you are feeling ill or your kid is sick.
  • Learn about health issues – take some role in your health care.
  • Stop having sex with everything that lives and wonder why you have had another occurrance of a STD.
  • Stop naming your children after an STD, or something you don;t understand.
  • Go to bed at a reasonable hour.
  • Have reasonable expectations about your health concerns, and the process of getting well.

OK, Cathartic ranting is not always pretty, but it is out of my system for now.  Good night, and I am going to bed.

Written by Barbara Bloom

February 4, 2009 at 1:21 AM

Why is “submission” such a difficult word?

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Our sunday school elective began a 6 week work book based on the movie “Fireproof”, and this morning the discussion was great, but it kept coming back to several of the women mentioning how they struggle with the word “submit” and the concept of “submitting” to their husbands.  Perhaps I have been married too long or perhaps the submission issue was something that I have found peace with because I thought  “that is interesting – why do they struggle so much?” 

So the word that causes some of our generation to shudder should be investigated.  What does God’s Word say about submission?  What does the greek word actually mean, and what are the lessons we can take away and apply to our lives?

Submission Greek hypotassō (pronounced hü-po-tä’s-sō) 

This word was a Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.  Here are several usages  in scripture:

  1. to arrange under, to subordinate
  2.  to subject, put in subjection
  3. to subject one’s self, obey
  4. to submit to one’s control
  5. to yield to one’s admonition or advice
  6. to obey, be subject

Jesus assumed his role of leader, having everything put in order under his authority:

And [Jesus] hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church,  Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.          –  Ephesians 1:22-23

For he [Jesus] hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under [him, it is] manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.  And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.                         -1 Corinthians 15:27-28

Reflect on the life of Christ, and his primary mission – it was to submit to his father’s will, and die on a cross to pay for our sins.  This was the plan to redeem mankind from sin, and to crush the sting of death.  Thanks be to God that Jesus was sinless and obeyed, and went to the cross.

Submission conveys the idea of losing or letting go of control or surrendering control to someone else.  At the heart of our modern struggle with this word is an inherent need to be in control whether it is of simple or complex aspects of our life.  And in this fast paced life we are less and less likely to know each other, or develop trust in one another.  Perhaps it may be even deeper, the idea that we cannot trust ourselves with our lives, how can we trust someone else with control.  But faith is not seeing but believing.  And there is a refreshing freedom that washes over us when we know that we cannot control or change anything about our lives however yielding everything to Jesus we know he will work it out. 

Submission involves learning and faith.  AS we grow in our knowlege of the Character of God, we are given new insight into his love and watchcare for us.  Just like a marriage, we learn each other’s character, and strengths.  We begin to learn how God works and by faith we grow stronger as our life is yielded to him.   Implied in this idea is the development of trust.  As we see God intervene we know that we can rest on his word and his promises for our lives. 

Submission is a word that can be challenging, and bring anxiety to our lives.  Lord, look upon my life, and reassure me that anything yielded to your authority is safe, and that you hold all things in control.  Thank you that you have ordered us with a purpose and given us destinct roles in marriage.  Help me to remain resolved to submit to my husband’s authority and in so doing, honor you.  And thank you that you have provided a chain of command, an ordered structure for the family.  May we be living examples of your grace in this wicked and perverse generation.

And help those who struggle with submission.  Show them your character, and your grace. Grant that the fear, apprehension and negative context associated with this word is removed, and freedom is given to honor you all our days. Amen.

 

 

Written by Barbara Bloom

February 1, 2009 at 1:01 PM