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Bad News

Bad news can come in so many ways. Today I've had quite a bit. A dear friend's divorce will be final tomorrow. Another friend's daughter died after a prolonged illness. And the last phone call of the evening brought more bad news; the doctors can't do any more for my brother-in-law, so hospice has been called in.

It's true: bad news can come in many ways. But there is another corollary that is equally as true: you can choose your attitude. For this reminder I am indebted to James MacDonald, Chicago pastor and radio Bible teacher. I've been reading his book Lord, Change My Attitude and have found I've been choosing some bad attitudes lately. Teenagers often hear parents chide them to "check their attitudes at the door," but no one gets quite that punchy with their adult friends. Yet God does.

Consider the children of Israel as they stood outside the Promised Land before their 40-year trek through the sand. According to Numbers 11--14 these folks were gold medal bad attitude winners. Complaining and criticizing, doubting and rebelling came easily to this bunch, especially when 10 of 12 spies said the land God had promised to give them was ungettable. And God wasn't pleased. The Bible says the anger of the Lord burned against the people and many of them were killed--right there on the spot.

With their example in clear focus I looked at my bad news and wondered, was I any different than those folks? God has promised us joy unspeakable and full of glory. God has promised His presence no matter what. God has promised to love us with an everlasting love, to keep our tears in a bottle, to hear our sighs and to heal our sorrows. But by my choosing to criticize God's way of bringing about His plan in another's life, to fuss at God for allowing a parent to be left behind, to question God's healing of a loved one by bringing them through death's door, well, by my bad attitudes I was telling God that His promises for MY bad news were just not gettable.

Yet the Bible assures us that none of God's good promises has ever failed. The only failure in the midst of all my bad news was me and my way of looking at things. I failed to choose an attitude of faith, of submission to God's will, of thankfulness for His direction in the past and His assurance of His presence in the future. When today's bad news came faster than I could mentally process it, I forgot the very thing I've encouraged you to do: Keep trusting God for the ride.

So learn from my mistake today, okay? When bad news comes (and it will!), choose a godly attitude instead of a bad one. Choose to have faith; choose to be thankful; choose to remember how God has cared for you in the past. But most of all choose to keep trusting Him through the bad news, for the Bible says, He who promised is faithful.

It has been a while between posts--my apologies.

But the Lord is good; and I'm learning the blessings found in His provision. While I may want something different, the Lord is graciously reminding me that what He gives me is ENOUGH. And God's ENOUGH is more than sufficient for my needs. God's ENOUGH is oft times miraculous, too...

From one week to the next I can easily forget God’s miracles in my own life…the miraculous provision of a sermon with the very words I needed to hear…the miraculous provision of funds needed to attend my father-in-law’s funeral…the miraculous provision of an unexpected check in the mail that covered the house payment…the miraculous provision of good health when all around me were coughing and feverish with flu…and right now I’m sitting at my office window watching a red fox warm herself in the sun on a driveway culvert stone. She’s so peaceful, yet alert to the sounds around her. Now she stands, stretches, and lopes off down the neighbor’s driveway to catch a drink at his pond. What a miraculous reminder of the way God wants me to be—peaceful in His provision, yet alert to His direction, to move whenever and only when He speaks.

So I encourage you, right now, to find those pieces of God’s provision in your own life and build yourself a memorial. One gal I know keeps small pieces of embroidery floss hanging in her kitchen window; each one a different color to remind her of a different blessing. Another friend journals her blessings. A third has a collection of teacups. Whatever it takes, whatever is meaningful for you, build yourself a memorial to God’s faithful provision in your life, especially right now. The enemy of our souls wishes to destroy us and bury us under faithlessness, doubt, and fear--that old question posed to Eve, “Hath God said?” Without a means of remembering, Eve fell; you and I can easily fall, too, and “quickly forget His works” (Ps 106:13).

But God who is rich in mercy made us alive in Jesus (Eph 2:4), and He has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and self-control (2 Tim 1:7). He has called us to a life of contentment in His provision, for He has given us richly all things to enjoy (1 Tim 6:17). And, yes, that includes this time of unemployment.

So build yourself a memorial, and keep on trusting our loving Lord for the ride of your life. He loves you more than you can ever know. He even sings when He thinks of you (Zeph 3:17). Carry that in your heart today. And keep on trusting Him for the ride.

The Ram

Do you remember the Bible story about Abraham, Isaac, and the amazing sacrifice? It looked like God was going to let Abraham sacrifice his only son. The altar was built and laid with wood for the fire. Isaac was tied and positioned on the altar. Abraham had his knife in the air, ready to kill him. But then the Bible says Abraham heard a voice from heaven telling him not to harm the boy. And in that moment Genesis 22:13, ESV says, "Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns."

Did you catch that? The ram's horns were snagged in a bush. It couldn't get free and run off. And it's my guess it was making some kind of noise, too, bleating or thrashing about so that Abraham not only heard the voice from heaven, but also heard something else. He turned his head ever so slightly and saw something out of the corner of his eye. Something God had put there to provide for Abraham's need before Abraham even knew to look for it.

How wonderful that reminder of the ram. Too often on the roller coaster of unemployment our focus gets skewed. We turn our eyes and attention away from God's greatness and find ourselves staring at the storm, turning away from God's presence and focusing on fear, grasping at straws while all along God has already provided the sacrifice--the ram in the bush behind us. Yet God, in His kindness, recognizes our weaknesses. God made us and knows us better than we know ourselves. So He gives you and me something to relieve the fear, solve the problem, calm the storm, provide for the need...and He does it in such a way that, even if it is behind us, we can't miss it.

So, in the middle of this day when I don't know which way to go, I'll once again pray: Thank you, Lord, for the reminder. Thank you for forgiving my faulty focus. And thank you for providing my ram and helping me hear it, see it, and appropriate it. Amen.

My prayer journal entry for July 29, 2008, one month after our unemployment roller coaster ride began:

Genesis 18:1 -- "The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day."

It's strange, Lord. You show up at the most unexpected the heat of the day at Abrahams' the midst of a storm on the Sea of Galilee...beside a well at noontime in a stable during a census in a fiery furnace in an upper room after three days to calm the fears of some terrified disciples...on a rocky, dry trail at midnight to wrestle with a deceiver and put his hip out of joint....

Unexpected encounters, every one; and at unexpected times. But both in the Old and New Testaments you are the God who comes. And when you come, life changes, people and situations change, and blessing ultimately follows.

In a way, Lord, it seems like during this joblessness we're on your "Candid Camera" and that "somehow, some way, when we least expect it, someone may walk up to us and say" ...Smile--for this is the way, this is the job, the path, the answer, the surety, the direction, the whatever. For you, Lord, are the same yesterday, today, and forever. You don't change even though our circumstances do. If you came for all those who needed you in Bible times, you'll come for us, too.

So now, please come, Lord Jesus. In the midst of our circumstances and joblessness, please come. And I thank you in advance, dear Lord, for I know you will--in your unexpected time, in your unexpected way, and maybe even in the unexpected heat of the day.

(So, too, for you, dear one. The words may be a year old, but the thought is always timely. He who watches over Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps the Psalmist says. He's aware of your needs. Keep trusting Him--and He will come.)

Genesis 16 tells the story of Hagar. But it also mirrors our personal unemployment story, in a way. How so?

In Hagar's life, she operated in the background as a servant of Sarah, Abraham's wife. Because of some decisions and inabilities on Sarah's part, Hagar was thrust into the limelight. Though Hagar generated the desired results (she conceived a child with Abraham while Sarah could not), problems arose because of jealousies between the two women, and Hagar ran away into the desert.

While my husband didn't run away from his former place of employment but rather was downsized due to a tough economy, our time of unemployment has often felt like a walk through a desert. The example of Hagar's experience in that bereft place brings some reassurance to us as we trust God for this ride through joblessness.
You see Genesis 16:7 says "the angel of the LORD found Hagar near a spring in the desert..." Hagar was pregnant and dying of thirst, but God knew where she was every minute. He found her, because He had never lost her. In similar fashion God has never lost us, either.

And what was Hagar's response to this? Genesis 16:13 says Hagar "gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: 'You are the God who sees me.'" Hagar saw God; and we seek to see Him today, too. We're different, but similar. The God who sees and knows the life of Hagar is the same God who sees and knows my lie, your life, the lives of His children going through joblessness and tough times.

If you read the rest of Genesis 16 you'll see that while Hagar waited at a nearby spring to rest up, God gave her clear direction what to do next. It will be the same for you and me and my husband. If we just wait where we are and trust God to lead us, His coming to us will be as clear as His coming to Hagar. His words and direction to us will be as specific and helpful as His words were for her. All we have to do is ask God to forgive our fears and thank Him for His faithfulness. Remember, He is the God who sees. And He will provide.

After This

Genesis 15:1 starts with the words, "After this." So what came before? Abram had just defeated Kedolaomer and his allies, had been blessed by the priest Melchizedek, and had refused a royal repayment from King Bera of Sodom for rescuing his people and goods. It was then that Genesis 15:1 says, "AFTER THIS, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: 'Do not be afraid Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.'"

Interesting. After everything that had happened to Abram, THEN God shows up and speaks to him. Was it a day later? A month down the road? The Bible doesn't say. All we're told is "After this." Abram had just lived through a mighty upheaval in his life, and then, "After this." Yet when God showed up on the scene He brought reassurance (Don't be afraid); a promise of protection and safety (I am your shield); and an assurance of provision (I am your great reward).

At this exact moment in time we can hear God say the same to us--don't be afraid; I'll protect you; I'll provide for you. And in this exact moment, I'm okay with that. But some days I'm not. Even as I write this I see my dog. She was resting on the rug in the center of the room, but something woke her. Her eyes got huge. Her body tensed. She snapped upright. She sensed there was something on the other side of the closet door. She was concerned that something might be coming through to get her. So, I went to the door, picked up the trinket that had fallen off a shelf, replaced everything, closed the door, and went back to my seat. Now the dog is once more resting peacefully. No fear. She knows she's safe and provided for.

In a sense I'm the dog; and I'm Abram. And so are you. We're standing in a place of change and uncertainty. But Genesis 15:1 reminds us, "After this." Because God is the sovereign Master of our "before's" and our "after's," we can also hear the Lord say to us, "Don't be afraid. I'll protect you; I'll provide for you." We can keep trusting Him for the ride and curl up by His side, resting there peacefully (like my pampered pooch!), and sighing our thanks as we stretch out in His presence. There will be an "AFTER THIS" coming in our lives, too. Trust Him. God bless you!

Have you ever imagined living during the days of Noah and the ark? The animals walked in, two by two. The rain kept coming and coming. The water kept rising and rising.

In a sense that’s what happened in Nashville, TN during the first week of May, 2010. Weathermen say it was an unexpected happening. Newscasters called it a flood that only happens once in a thousand years. But to homeowners like myself, it brought to light what some have labeled “the tyranny of the urgent.”

Too often we are driven by the urgent things in our lives…the appointments we have to keep, the times of day we have to take our pills or walk the dog, the weekly blog that awaits another entry, the fuel gauge on the car that screams “Fill me, now, or I’m going to quit running!” There is a tyranny of urgent things in our lives that keeps us marching faster and faster in an attempt to accomplish it all.

But, when a “thousand year flood” invades your life, the urgent things lose significance in the face of the important things. Important things like a neighbor’s home flooding faster than he can get his things to safety. Important things like evacuating an elderly couple from a rapidly flooding home or checking on the home of a neighbor who is out of town. Important things like caring for one another, helping out in whatever way you can, sharing what little resources you might have with those who now have none.

For two full weeks our neighborhood was cut off from the outside world. No telephone. No Internet. Some roads impassable. That’s what happens when flood waters still cover the ground. No longer important by newscasters’ standards, but very important to those who live there. And when my telephone rang alerting us that we were reconnected to the twenty-first century, a cheer went up. And a prayer, too, for all those who lost loved ones in the flash floods, for all those who suffered major economic loss on top of already stretched thin finances, for all those who have no place to call home any longer, and for all those who still wait for electricity, telephone service, clean water, and clear roads.

It wouldn’t have been easy to be Noah up in that big, old ark, waiting for the water to subside, not knowing what he’d find when the ark finally rested on dry ground. Here in Nashville, we’re not sure how all this will pan out in the end, either. But this we do know. God is sovereign. And God is faithful to all the promises He has made. So, we will keep on trusting Him for the ride—-the ride of unemployment and of the watery ride of a thousand year flood. “In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)!

According to Genesis 6:8-9, "Noah found grace [favor] in the eyes of the Lord...Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God."

Did you catch the progression of Noah's description? The way these statements come together says a lot about Noah. He found favor with God, was a righteous man, and walked with God. Despite these notations, Noah probably wasn't perfect, yet the people of his time condiered him blameless. Can the same be said of us?

When our days are troubled and full of stress, may we be like Noah...always walking close to God and finding His favor because our deeds are righteous (as much as is possible for faulty humans!). May those we interact with in the neighborhood, at church, with former work colleagues, or with those we've just met consider us to be blameless, persons full of integrity and always ready to speak the truth without dissembling or fudging things to make ourselves look good. Or, as Scripture says it: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer" (Psalm 19:14).

And just so you know...there's still no full time work...the part time work has dwindled to nothing...there hasn't been enough money in the till at the part time position to pay anything for hours worked for the last three weeks...the temporary job that was to be a forty-hour work week for 8 weeks may now only be 20 hours a week for 4 weeks...

BUT GOD IS FAITHFUL. He has not forgotten where I live. He knows my needs. And He has promised to take care of me. So I will offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving--gratefulness to God for all He is and for all He has already done for me. And it will be a sacrifice, because I don't feel like it. I feel like hollering and throwing a tantrum. I feel like giving up and throwing in the towel. But instead I will sacrifice an offering of praise and thanksgiving. I hope you will do the same; and then, let's both keep on trusting God for this roller coaster ride of unemployment.

From June 2008 until now much of our unemployment journey has been chronicled in Discovery House Publisher's recent release The Roller Coaster of Unemployment: Trusting God for the Ride. But here is an excerpt from a journal from those early days of joblessness that didn't make it into the book...

Genesis 4:14, 16 [And Cain told God,] "Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth...So Cain went out from the Lord's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden."

Cain had murdered his brother in anger. And now Cain recognized the implications of his sin--he would be removed from God's presence. With each sinful step this first family moved farther and farther away from close fellowship with God. Mom and Dad (Eve & Adam) were tossed out of the Garden of Eden for eating what had been forbidden. Now Cain was banished even further--to the east of Eden--completely out of the Garden of Eden's neighborhood and all the way to the land of Nod.

So, too, in your life, whether jobless or not, each little (or big!) sinstep takes you further away from close fellowship with God. When you fear what is to come, you sinstep away from what God wants because His Word says He has not given you a spirit of fear, but of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). You sinstep away from God when you are ungrateful for what God has given you, for God's Word says giving thanks in all things is a part of His will for your life (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When you worry about how you're going to pay your bills or if you'll lose your home or any of the myriad things that pop into your head in the middle of the night, You've sidestepped again into sin, for the Bible says you are not to worry, but rather cast your cares on God for He will provide for you because He cares for you (Matthew 6:34; 1 Peter 5:7).

Indeed, you and I both need God's presence more than we need the sideways sinsteps into the land of Nod. So ask Him to restore the joy of your salvation, to grant you a newness in His Spirit. Confess aloud that He is your Father and that He is in charge of everything. For that's the truth. God reigns over everything in heaven and on earth. He guides, guards, and directs you even when you might not recognize it, and God knows what it best for us. Instead of sinstepping away from God's presence like Adam, Eve, & Cain, keep trusting Him for the ride.

According to the Bible (Mark 10:27) Jesus reminded His disciples that while some things appear impossible to happen in human times and terms, "all things are possible with God."

When I read that phrase back in June 2008 when my husband was laid off from his full-time job, I supposed that it meant that even though it looked like getting another full time job in his field seemed impossible, God could make it happen. And, indeed, while God is capable of making those things happen that way, He didn't. Full time work never materialized--in 2008, 2009, or even so far into 2010.

However, what God did do is just as much of a miracle and an impossibility; it's just that I didn't have eyes to see it while it was happening.

...At first, I expected full time employment and a regular salary equivalent to his old job: instead, God provided temporary work that was enough to enable us to pay off most of our debt.

...As time wore on, I expected the impossible of full-time salaried work of any kind for my husband: instead God provided temporary work for me and a book contract with a publisher.

...As the unemployment trial drew past 18 months, I expected the impossibility of work of any kind--full-time, part-time, temporary: instead, God provided for our needs through an unplanned inheritance, some retirement payouts, and the unexpected generosity of Christian friends.

...And, as we see the two-year mark of Mike's unemployment approaching, I'm seeing another impossibility happen: a change in my attitude. Instead of expecting God to fill up our lack the way I see fit, I'm finding myself sitting back and stressing out less while I let God show me how He wants to do the impossible.

And guess what?! Now, there's a change in our work status. We've gone from unemployed to underemployed. We're both working part-time temporary work for the 2010 census. That's another impossible thing God has done. More than 40,000 people applied for 1800 positions here in Nashville--and God secured two of those positions for us.

Indeed, Jesus words to His disciples still rings true today. God is in the impossibility business. All things are possible with Him. Sometimes we just have to have eyes that will see it His way! So, keep on trusting Him for your ride of umeployment, underemployment, career choices, life decisions, etc. He IS working those seemingly impossibile impossibilities into His plan for your life!

First century Christians would greet each other with the words, "He is risen!" If this greeting was received by another believer, they would reply, "He is risen indeed!" By giving and exchanging this coded greeting early Christians could be fairly certain they were talking to someone else who believed in Jesus as Lord and Savior and not some spy from Caesar or the Jewish temple guard who sought to imprison Christians.

Today our greetings to one another are not usually marked with such secret phrases or code words. Yet our hellos might be tinged with other thoughts not spoken but hinted at between the lines. For example, someone might say hello and how are you, when what they really want to know is whether or not you've found a job yet. Someone else might even ask you how an interview went or if you've had a response to your emailed resumes, when what they're really wanting to know is why are you still unemployed? You have skills, abilities, a decent personality. So what's wrong with you that you still don't have a job?

But thankfully there's at least one person who doesn't speak in coded greetings or with hidden messages. That one person is God. God only ever says what He means. In fact Jesus says more than 30 times in the Gospel of Matthew alone, "I tell you the truth," so that people would know that what God says is true. And what does God say?

...God loves you more than you realize: Titus 3:4-5
...Your life has a divine purpose: Jeremiah 29:10-14
...God stands ready to give you guidance: Proverbs 3:5-6
...Nothing that happens in your life ever escapes God's attention:Genesis 16:6-14
...Though bad things happen, God is still in charge: Daniel 2:20-22; 4:17,35
...God promises blessings for your faithfulness to Him: 1 Corinthians 3:11-15

But best of all Psalm 145:13 says "The Lord is faithful to all his promises." Catch hold to at least one of the promises listed above as you go through this next week. Pair it with this verse in Psalms, and repeat this to yourself whenever the roller coaster of unemployment and life rushes you down the track and into the tunnels of the unknown. Keep trusting God for the ride, for "He who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23)! He is risen; He is risen, indeed!

Too Busy

It's been a while--I've been too busy. Ever said that to anyone? Ever thought that? You meant to meant to meant to twitter or email or stay in touch some way, but life has a way of getting away from us sometimes. We get too busy.

It happens when you're unemployed, too. You fully intended to follow up on that lead today, network with those folks, finish your "LinkedIn" page, send your resume to that friend, or whatever else it might be, but something else came up. Something else took the time, and now you're staring at the clock and another day has slipped by, and you've missed it again. All because you're too busy.

This tyranny of the urgent makes me grumpy on Mondays. So I'll challenge you to do something that I forget to do, but need to do, and that's begin each day aright. How?

The best way I've found to order my days is to start it with the Lord. Before my feet even hit the floor, when I hear the alarm or the snuffle of the dog asking to be let out, I'll let that be my reminder to pray. First thing. Before the covers are off my feet. I'm not coherent or profound. Just greeting my Creator with a hello and a request to help me through my "too busy" day. Why don't you do the same? You'll find it will make it a much easier way for you to trust Him for the rest of your day, too, if you make Him the start of each one.

Did you realize God's timing is perfect? Did you know He knows when it is best for us to go through a season of unemployment, underemployment, or a season of work at a job that doesn't quite stir your heart or pay all the bills? It's the truth. Why do I say that? Because God is sovereign and "my times are in [His] hands" Psalm 31:15.

Consider this. In our most recent season of unemployment several things happened in quick succession. First, our last child finished college and the last tuition payment was made in May before the layoff in June. Second, within weeks of our latest season of unemployment my husband was hospitalized with heart trouble and I was diagnosed with a chronic health problem of my own. Third, the taxes went up on the house and gasoline and grocery prices began to climb through the roof. There are more instances of major change, too, but these are enough to illustrate that even when our joblessness hit, both good and bad things still came into our life.

As the Bible says, God causes the sun to "rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45 NKJV). That means stuff happens--both good and bad--because that's how life is. But, when you realize God is sovereign, that your times are in His hands, you can look at the stuff that happens and see it with God's eyes, eyes that better glimpse His plan and purpose.

That means for the examples I've given here, the last tuition payment was paid in May, the layoff came in June, and the hospitalization bills, house taxes, and higher prices followed in quick succession. But, because God's timing had placed the joblessness in the middle of those things, the money that had gone to pay the tuition bills could now be set aside for doctor bills, taxes, and other higher expenses. Unemployment isn't something I'd wish on anyone, but when God is in the picture, He times things perfectly.

So today, as you look around you, ask God to open your eyes to His work in your life, to His hand in your times, to show you how He has taken the situations you've experienced and enfolded them into His plan. The imprint of His touch is there. Just keep trusting Him for the ride.

The unemployment roller coaster often leaves you with more time on your hands than you had before. When you're dealing with the emotions that come with the first blush of unemployment, you might not see your joblessness as a productive time. But, in reality, it is. Joblessness can work for you. What do I mean?

Joblessness offers some benefits. You find yourself with extra time. You're not as scheduled. You may also find yourself available for new opportunities. For example: have you always wanted to have an extended quiet time with the Lord? Let this period of unemployment work for you to grant you those hours to spend time with God. Or have you felt you could be the next great novelist, musician, or athlete if only you had the time to write, compose, or train? Well, unemployment grants you a large block of time every day. Let that work for you to help you achieve this latent goal.

Whenever you look for the opportunities for such creativity within the dark days of unemployment, you're making your time of no work work for you. And that's a good thing. Ecclesiastes 11:6 NIV reminds you to "sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well."

It's quite possible that your time of no work might truly work well for you as it opens unopened doors of opportunity for God's glory and your ultimate success. As you look for those opportunities for "work" when there is no WORK, keep on trusting God for the ride. He is faithful--to find you work and WORK!

Mark This

I had intentionally decided to concentrate today's blog on a different unemployment thought...but then the Lord intervened because of two little bluebirds perched on the wires outside my office window. Two little bluebirds so bright, so bouncy,! And it dawned on me, I could see them, really see them. Not like the beggar in Mark 8.

The Bible says in the village of Bethsaida a group of people brought a blind beggar to Jesus. Jesus took the man outside of the village and then spit on the man's eyes, covered those blinded eyes with His hands, and prayed.

Then Jesus asked the man to describe what he saw. The beggar replied that he could see--but that people looked like trees walking.

Jesus gently repeated the process of touching the man's eyes and praying. And the second time when Jesus told the man to open his eyes, the beggar's eyesight was completely restored. He could see clearly.

And so it is for me, and for most of us, too. We sometimes don't see what the Lord is doing in our lives, don't understand why we're taking this path or having this problem. But then God graciously opens our eyes a little and we can see a bit--like seeing people that look like trees walking.

Yet if we continue to trust and lean on the Lord's guidance and continue to ask Him for His touch, He'll do just that. He'll open our eyes to show us His way more clearly, to see His hand in the midst of our situation, to see what He is trying to accomplish in our lives. Just ask Him, and then trust Him to show you the way. And He might throw in the sighting of a bluebird, too.

But, God...

In our nation's current economic crisis, dollars get stretched. Budgets get tightened. For my husband, a tightening of his employers' payroll necessitated a layoff, and, as is the case in many businesses, those with seniority are usually spared the axe and the newer hires, like my husband, are cut from the payroll. It was a true sucker punch. But, God...

Indeed, but God...God is faithful. He is never taken by surprise by the circumstances of life. God is never left wringing His hands wondering what to do next. Despite what life may throw at you at any given moment, if you are God's child and are committed to living for Him, there's nothing happening to you that He's unaware of.

How do I know? Mark 6 says after Jesus miraculously fed five thousand hungry folks with some bread and fish, Jesus dismissed the crowd and headed up onto the mountain to pray. As He did so, He sent His disciples back down the mountain to take their boat back home across the Sea of Galilee. While the disciples were rowing, the wind turned against them. They rowed for hours, making no headway. They were just about beaten, completely spent. And the Bible says that Jesus, alone on the hillside, saw them.

Did you catch that? I don't know about you, but there's no way I could see, with my naked eyes, 12 people in a yard of one of my neighbor's homes just 1/4 mile away. Yet the Bible says Jesus saw His disciples, in the dark, and probably 6 miles or more away from them.

Notice, too, the story of Hagar. According to Genesis 16 she and her son were about to die from dehydration in the desert. But God...that's right...but God. God sent His angel to direct Hagar to a real well, not some mirage. And Hagar's response? She praised God and called Him, El Roi, which means, "The God Who Sees."

So what does that mean to you, to me, to those of us without work, without income, without a clue of what to do next? Grab onto this: God sees you. He sees right where you are. He's aware of whether you've been rowing all night or about to die with dehydration. God sees you. You are never outside of His line of sight. And because of that, you are never outside of His reach.

How many breaths of hot, dry air did Hagar have to breath before the angel came? We're not told. How many hours did the disciples labor at the oars in a wind that was against them? Again, we're not sure. But what we do know for sure is that God saw them in the midst of their need. And God knew what they needed to deliver them FROM and THROUGH those situations. And God came--to deliver them before they lost their lives.

Carry that hope with you today, dear one. God sees you. God knows what's going on. And God cares enough about you to come--in His time and in His way. Hold onto that hope...

God's Time

Did I happen to mention that our roller coaster of unemployment began in God's time?

If we truly believe that everything is under God's control (and it IS, make no mistake about that!), then ultimately the timing of life's circumstances and situations is also under His control.

In our life this meant that God graciously did not bring this unemployment situation to pass until our last child's college tuition payments had been paid. What a blessing that is, and what a reminder, too, of God's overriding timing in our lives.

It has always been that way with God. Abraham's descendants were chosen to be God's children more than 400 years before they ever became a nation and had a land of their own. David was anointed as God's choice to be king while he was still a boy. Twenty some years later, when God's time was right, he wore the crown as Israel's king. And Jesus Himself came to the earth as a baby, a man, a resurrected Savior, when God's time was right.

If you're waiting for work, like we are, take heart from these stories in the Bible. Your times are in God's hands. The Bible says so (see Psalm 31:15). Just keep trusting Him for the ride--all the time!

The Saga Begins

So now you know us. Now you know our hearts. And now you know how we got we got on this roller coaster of unemployment.

Maybe you're there with us. Unemployed or underemployed. It's a common occurrence these days. But did you ever think that unemployment, with all of its ups and downs, might have been God's plan all along?

Think about it. If we're truly committed to our Heavenly Father and truly believe that He is committed to our good, then the things that happen to us every day are just that...pathways to His good for our lives. Sometimes those pathways are easy...when all goes right, when everyone's healthy, when the sun shines and the bills are all paid. It's easy to see those paths as God's good for our lives.

But when the path turns a corner that leads into the darkness of job loss, health issues, financial reversals, interpersonal upheavals, what then? Is this also a path for God's good?

Both the psalmist and the Apostle Paul would say yes. Even the dark paths can bring about God's good for you, for "in everything God works for the good of those who love him" (Romans 8:28 NCV). The situation itself might not be a happy one, but God can make it okay. God can allow "goodness and mercy to follow [you] all the days of [your] life" (Psalm 23:6 NKJV). You need only to trust Him for the ride because God loves you, dear one. Don't forget that!

We didn't plan this, you know. We didn't ask to be unemployed. But here we are. So let me tell you a bit about us.

I'm a writer--a technical writer. The person who writes all the stuff that nobody reads but everyone expects will be there--like, the label on your aspirin bottle, the how to instuctions in your assemble-it-yourself project, the words on the back of the cereal box. Those words don't get there by magic. Someone has to write them, and that person is classified as a technical writer.

In my case I've been a technical writer in a specific field for 18 the field of Christian inspiration. I've written everything from the dictionaries and indexes in the back of your Bible to the introductory paragraphs that tell you what Malachi or Obadiah or Philippians is all about. I've written scores of "extended greeting cards"--those little giftable books that you pick up in the hospital gift shop to take to Aunt Sukie after her gall bladder surgery. I written a few children's books based on the specifications of a client or publisher. And I've had my hand in devotional books, too, covering topics for women, moms, and the general public. My mother said I've been telling stories since I was two years old, so writing, in a way, has been an extension of that--telling stories in print, instead of aloud to quiet a squirmy sibling.

My husband Michael has been my partner and best friend for over thirty years. He has nurtured my story telling and encouraged me to continue to follow that path wherever it has led while he has pursued a career in Christian retail and gift product development for many of the major Christian retailers in the United States. He's a seasoned world traveler who has scoured the globe for inspirational gifts for home and hearth. His driving passion has been to fulfill the Deuteronomy 6 command of God to the ancient Israelites to keep God's Word always at the forefront of their lives and conversation, teaching it to their children, talking about it on the road as they walked along, and even mounting it on their doorposts so they would never forget God or His ways. Taking that command into the Christian marketplace has meant the creation of gift products, home decor, jewelry, t-shirts, greeting cards, etc. that shine the light of God's Word into places that might never be touched by a Bible, a pastor's sermon, or a gospel song. In this way God's Word is going out. And God promises in Isaiah that when His Word goes out, it will not return void, but will accomplish that purpose for which God has sent it.

So, now you know. We're a household of faith, God's kids who have been placed in this point in time to reflect back to Him His glory. And we do it through words and products that highlight His Word.

Now that you know us, keep praying for us, and together we'll keep trusting God for the ride of unemployment.

Indeed, it has been almost two years since we started this roller coaster of unemployment. Some of the ride has been posted permanently in Discovery House Publisher's recent release entitled The Roller Coaster of Unemployment: Trusting God for the Ride.

But there are many other pieces in that puzzle that did not make it into the final manuscript. There's more than a book in the day to day happenings of being unemployed...more than a publisher will accept in a manuscript...more than an idea or two that gets past an editorial review board. This blog posting is a way to provide those extra details. It's still a roller coaster of a ride...but here's a few more "behind the scenes" details.
Let me bring you up to speed...SMH

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