Rhoda Lea

Thoughts on the Journey of Life

Archive for the category “Ruminations”

What About Work?

What About Work?

This was a great article I ran across today from my favorite web-sites, Q.  I love this web-site, the brain trust of researcher and writer, Gabe Lyons.  He is the author of the book, “Next Christians”, a favorite work of mine.  The site touches my heart because it challenges our traditional conceptions of what Christianity should look like, and this article was no exception.

As my followers know I have gone through some years where I have been in the process of re-inventing myself and seeking to find my purpose.  I have spent a good deal of time looking at my passions and my gifts attempting to identify where I would find the most fulfillment and success in the world.  Despite a shiny new Master’s Degree and well-defined goals I have found myself hitting the wall of rejection since graduating a year ago.  I can’t help but continually run Steinbeck’s line in my head, “The best laid plans of mice and men do often go astray.”

Then in April, something happened.  I got angry!  Not that kind of irrational, lay myself on the floor to kick and scream, anger of a three year old throwing a tantrum.  It was a grown up, this crap stops now, kind of anger, where in my mind and heart, I drew a line.  I found my boundaries and I had reached them.  I was a child of the most high God and I knew he had a plan for my life, and what I was looking at wasn’t it.

Somehow we get the idea that work is the enemy, but as this author pointed out, not having work can be a greater enemy, and I was frankly sick to death of contemplating the status of my belly button lint.  Everything I had tried had failed and I was trapped in a cycle of continually self-evaluating.  What was wrong with me?  Why didn’t the world want me?  Why couldn’t I find my place in the world?  Blah, blah, wah, wah!  YUK!

After two days of kicking myself in my own butt for being, dare I say it, nauseatingly obtuse about myself, I got up with one idea in my head.  Sitting down at the laptop I opened a word document and started writing.  I knew I had lessons to teach, words to speak, and needed a platform.  I knew I had a story to tell and the one thing I knew I could categorically, and irrevocably do, was write.  On  April 3rd, I started a Novel.

The words of this article rang so true to me.  We view Eden as being like Key West.  It is a place of vacation, sunshine, on going fun, surrounded by tropical trade winds and delicious food.  However, God made Adam caretaker of that garden and all that was in it.  God knew that meaningful labor was good for men’s souls.  I have learned the value of meaningful labor.

Everyday, I write, I edit, then I write some more.  At no time has it felt like “work.”  There are moments when I struggle with a particular chapter, or fight through some research I’m needing to do.  There have been trips to the library, where I always find what it is that I’m looking for, surrounded by what I love – books, books and more books.  The smell of old paper filling my spirit as well as my nostrils rejuvenating my spirit.  Inspiration comes again and I write.  It has been a joyful and rewarding process, which I am almost done with.  I am filling in the last few chapters but a week or so ago, I wrote the rough draft of the last chapter.  It was somewhat bitter sweet to see the end of the story and the end of these characters which I have captured my mind and consumed my labor.

The secret to work is find joy in it.  Someone said, maybe Confucious, “Work at what you love and never will you feel as if you’re working.”  Pray with me, my friends, over these next few months that God leads in the editing and publication of this book.  I firmly believe my future and my hope rests in this work of my hands.

Oh, by the way, I got inspired last week on a second novel and roughed out the first chapter and an outline.  It’s so nice to feel inspired again.  Been waiting for that for a long time.

MONEY

“The plans of the diligent tend only to profit as surely as haste leads poverty.”  Proverbs 21: 5

Picture from article “How Rich People Think” originally taken from Flicker.com

Most of us struggle with money, or the lack of it, throughout our lives.  This reality has been in the forefront of my mind in recent months.  Then a couple days ago, in the midst of job hunting, I ran across an article on LinkedIn from Business Insider.  (For the article click here)  It was a re-stating of the main points of a book by Steve Siebold, How Rich People Think.  (For the book click here)  In his research of interviewing millionaires from around the world over three decades  he found that their commonalities weren’t about money, it was in how they thought about money.  It struck me so strongly I sent it to a number of wise friends of mine and was given a great deal to think about from their responses.  What I have learned through this quick and dirty study I intend to put in a short series.

The main points we will be covering over the next few postings are as follows:

1) BE BRAVE!  Living a wealthy life is about taking risks and not being afraid.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love

and of a sound mind.” II Timothy 1:7

2)  MONEY ISN’T EVIL!  POVERTY IS EVIL!  Living a wealthy life is about viewing money as a tool and lack as the enemy.

 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10a

3)  FOLLOW YOUR PASSIONS, BECOME THE SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT AND IT WILL PAY!  Living a wealthy life isn’t about your job, your education, what you do, or your expendable income.

 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

4)  BE WISE!  Living a wealthy life is understanding where money comes from, what drives markets, being content and making our money work for us.

“Behold, I am sending you as lambs among wolves; be therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16

5)  FOCUS ON ABUNDANCE!  Living a wealthy life is about believing we can have it all and surrounding ourselves with like-minded people.

 “…I came that you might have life and have it abundantly.”  John 10:10b

Taken from the Web-site for Jay Peroni – A Faith-based Financial Counselor.

We live in a world where in reality all our hopes, dreams, and plans for the future and the futures of those we love are dependent upon money.  We live in a country based upon capitalism which has inherent evils of it’s own, just like any other type of money system.  Money can destroy friendships, marriages and divide families.  However, it can also save the sick, conquer poverty, and create better tomorrows, not just for ourselves, but for those whose lives we touch.  And money, like it or not, widens our influence and the scope of those we can touch.  I am learning to view it as the tool it is and trust God for his abundance in my life.  These truths will insure a brighter tomorrow for more people than just myself.  It all starts with how we think. 

For Further Thought:

The following links are for some resources I ran across while researching for this series.  For the books, if you have a Kindle, or a cloud reader, they come in that format for a more affordable price point than traditional book form.  Additionally, I can loan you one of the books if you have a Kindle.  First come, first serve!  The first one to comment here will get the loan of the book.

This is an article/blog post from a faith-based organization which offers similar thoughts from a Christian perspective.  Good article, good organization.  A Brief History of American Consumer Culture

One of my wise friends recommended this read when I sent her the article.  The book will be referenced in future posts on this subject.  This is one I can lend through my Kindle, I just want to finish it first!  Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

This book is also by Kiyosaki and is a response to our current financial crisis in this country.  I can also loan this one through Kindle.  Rich Dad’s Conspiracy of the Rich: The 8 New Rules of Money by Robert T. Kiyosaki

I have a number of friends and family members that swear by Dave Ramsey (click here for his site.)  Here’s a link for his books on Amazon.  Dave Ramsey’s Books on Money

Irony

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1

Taken from "Posh Brats Bath and Body Boutique" blog.

Taken from “Posh Brats Bath and Body Boutique” blog.

Someone once said, “Irony is rich,” and I find myself this morning seeing very clearly some significant points of irony in my life over the past seven and a half years.  Websters defines Irony as:   “incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result and/or an event or result marked by such incongruity.”  One on-line source I looked at stated that irony was using language in such a way that the meaning is the opposite of what the words normally mean, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.  Having lived in the south for a number of years I can tell you that southern women are experts in this.

For example, two southern ladies are sitting, sipping tea on the front porch.  They look over as the neighbor lady drives up and gets out of her car next door.  As they wave and smile, one says to the other, “Will you just look at her hair.  Do you think she meant for it to be that color.”  The other replies, “Oh, Lord I certainly hope not.  Poor thing!”  The first lady responds, “Well at least it goes with that outfit.  Really what was she thinking?  Bless her heart!”  Irony, with sugar on it.  I learned quickly that you can say anything to or about anyone as long as it is proceeded with “poor thing” and followed with a “bless their heart.”

In the process of re-branding this blog I went back and read my very first entry in 2009 and I realized that I had some untold stories.  After the hindsight of the last number of years I can see the irony in how things have played out.  Somehow, I think I can hear God giggling a little bit.  This post is about one of those stories.

On June 30, 2005 I completed ten years of military service with the United States Navy.  Many reasons went into that decision and that after seven years no longer exist – a husband also in active military service, a home in Florida I didn’t want to leave, a kid with learning challenges who I didn’t want to uproot, and an over-all dissatisfaction with the Navy.

  • Irony #1:  The home in Florida was sold so that I could join my spouse in Seattle where he was stationed.
  • Irony #2:  The kid was up-rooted and thrived in his new school and now is a National Honor’s Society member with all honors classes.
  •  Irony #3:  The Spouse got out of the Navy six months after moving to Seattle and we relocated to Georgia.
  • Irony #4:  Then we moved back to Florida.
  • Irony#5:  Then he left me for someone else and moved to Tennessee two years later.

However, the final and greatest irony is that I haven’t been able to find or keep a viable job since I got out of the Navy and I really do miss it.  I realize as I look through my friends on Face Book how many of them have made rank and are now looking towards their retirements in two to four years.   Sigh.  And the greatest point of irony in this story is that I knew I couldn’t stay married and stay in the Navy.  It was either the Navy or the spouse.  I chose the spouse.  At this realization,  I hear God chuckling and shaking His head, saying, “Poor thing.”

Created by Tina1138 and posted to deviantart.com.

Created by Tina1138 and posted to deviantart.com.

Hind sight is 20/20, as is said, and I find myself yearning for a crystal ball.  The richest ironies in our lives stem from the choices and decisions we make along the way.  There are critical points in my life when I had multiple choices, but decided on a specific course.  I realize that if I had made a different choice it would have changed where I find myself now.  However, just because it would be different doesn’t mean it would be better.  We may not get the expected outcome to our decisions in life (hence, the irony) but, as a believer, I have to accept that God is ultimately in control.  We make mistakes, we make the wrong decisions, and we make foolish choices rooted in fear instead of faith.  But, I have to cling to His promises and know that “all things work together for good to those that love the Lord.” (Romans 8:28)  If there is one thing that has never wavered it is my love for God and that is something upon which I can build my tomorrows.

What decisions from your past do you question?

Seeing where you are now, would you change those decisions?  If not, why?  If you would change those decisions how do you think that would make your life better?

What have you learned from your past?  Taking what you have learned, how do you now move forward?

SCARS

My son, Sean, with Danielle, last Christmas.

Healing takes time, always.  Sometimes it’s hard work.  Often, it is painful.  Frequently, we feel trapped in the process.  This is exactly where I have been these past six months.

Our min-pin, Danielle, got bit by a black widow right between her shoulder blades a few years ago.  The toxins ate away at her flesh and worked their way down her spine.  She required major surgery to remove the rotting tissue but after ten days with the vet she returned to us.  She was scarred horribly, and as time progressed I came to realize that those scars were deeper than just the ones visible along her back.  She had always been difficult to manage and impossible to train, but after this experience her idiosyncrasies became full-blown neurosis.  Sadly, she just couldn’t adapt to the most recent changes in our family life and we had to let her go.  It was sad for all of us, but we were one dog too many and she was obviously unhappy.

Over these past few months I have felt much like Danielle.  I felt as if life had bit me hard, leaving me scarred more deeply than I had originally imagined.  I have questioned my ability to heal, recover, pick myself and move on.  Like Danielle, I realized I wasn’t adapting well to my new situation, and like Danielle, I just wanted to hide in the closet.  Everyday seemed to bring a new reminder of what I had lost and I felt as if nothing had replaced that.  My new life seemed to daily open up all my old scars and I went into emotional overload.

I have prided myself on living my life without regret and without fear, and for the first time in my life, I was feeling both.  Somewhere along the line, life had become something that happened to me and not something I made happen.  For me, this was insufferable and I found myself suffocated and immobilized.  Like Danielle, I just felt like one dog too many with too many issues to adapt.  I had lost that feeling of purpose, design, and significance in the world.  I couldn’t write and every time I tried to do something creative or productive it felt as if it was a mockery of who I had become.  Inside I was screaming, “THIS IS NOT WHO I AM!”

As I sit writing this I am acutely aware that I am not yet through this journey of painful self-doubt and grief.  However, there is a sense of destiny and purpose arising inside of me.  I told the boys as we were packing up the house in Jacksonville that I felt as if I was supposed “to bring pretty to Amber’s life.”  This I have done, putting her loved objects in places of honor in the house and mixing them with a few of my own.  I have dug candles out of drawers, lighting them often in the evening.  I plan to put together for her something fabulous from all her pictures that are hiding away in boxes for her Christmas present.  She has struggled over the years in many ways and the little niceties of life were pushed aside.  I am glad I can bless her for a time with my knack for style, grace and ease.

I believe also that Richard and I needed this time of proximity.  We needed to work through some lingering resentments and learn how to be the friends we once were to each other.  This continues to be a work in progress but each day it gets a little bit easier, for me at least.  Each little pang over a thoughtless gesture or harsh word brings in it’s wake the action of letting go and the healing runs a little deeper each time.  As I find myself desperately trying to regroup, gather my courage and step forth, I have begun to do what I have done so many times before.  I am repeating the serenity prayer and doing what my hand finds to do.

Taken from Bees Wax Candle Company.

Yesterday, I cleaned the living and dining room, moving things around to make them a little more user friendly and to make room for the Christmas tree.  When Amber and Richard got home the house glowed and smelled like jasmine and freesia.  The chicken for pollo fricase was cooking in the stock pot and the house felt like love as music played through the television.   I felt good about that.  I also have worked on my blog.

I have migrated all of the entries on “The House That Wisdom Built” series to a new blog site with that name.  You can find it here: http://thehousethatwisdombuilt.wordpress.com/  Please, keep in mind this is a work in progress and I welcome feedback!  I am going to continue to develop that series using the same format, as well as adding some new things as well.  (Spoiler Alert:  Recipes coming soon!)  Rhodalea’s Blog will continue to be a point of reference for my ruminations on ideas, or thoughts that inspire me, or aggravate me, so stay tuned.  However, please check out my new blog site, “The House That Wisdom Built” for all things having to do with hearth and home.  And, once again, I purpose to write more regularly, posting at last weekly.  Of one thing I am certain.  I have gifts to give and something to say that will bless and minister to others.

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