How I remembered that God is always working

I have been working in the corporate world for over a year now. I started at Viega on March 22, 2010, the Monday after I got back from my last trip to see Jim and Shelley and Jonah and Silas. And although I really love what I’m doing and the people I work with, I will be the first person to tell you that the transition has been difficult — much more difficult than I expected.

When I worked at the library, my projects were all large, but they all had an end. And usually, once a decision to do something was made, it stayed the same.

Where I am now, I have project after project after project that don’t seem to have any end in sight. Theoretically, they are supposed to end, but from everything I have seen I doubt highly that any of them actually will. And the powers that be change their minds constantly. Granted, their input is valuable and they all have wonderful, creative ideas, but after I’ve spent four months on accumulating copy and photos and layouts, having to start again at the very beginning is somewhat discouraging.

The corporate world is teaching me the subtle art of balancing passion with indifference. I don’t know if that makes sense or not. I want to be passionate about my work. I want to do my very best, but usually my very best isn’t good enough. And I have to be okay with that. That’s the job. I can be as creative as I want, but if it’s not creative enough or if it’s not directed clearly enough for the powers that be, it won’t work. And I can’t get my feelings hurt becuase that’s silly. That’s the job.

So I am learning how to be passionate about the things I can change and how to distance myself from freaking out about the things I can’t change. . . . . maybe it’s a good life lesson . . . .

In any case, this is a very long introduction to a story I’m gearing up to tell. I don’t have my usual 15-20 minute morning blog deadline like I do with my devotional posts, so I’m kind of taking my time this morning.

I do a lot of traveling for my company, mainly because I’m accumulating stories on product installations around the country. The first time I traveled by myself, I went to Tampa, FL for a couple of days to cover three different jobs. The way the process works is that our field sales guys sell the product, build a relationship with the contractor, and if it’s a high profile enough job they call us. And if we can fit it into our schedule (and our budget) I go down to cover the installation. The sales guy is usually responsible for picking me up, making my hotel reservations, ensuring that I get something to eat, etc. etc. etc.

My boss had told me that it’s like having 150 brothers out in the field. I was kind of skeptical of that, but I doubt doubt her anymore. It’s actually very true.

The sales guy I met in Tampa is a Christian. And not just in name only but he lives it. He’s passionate about his faith. He’s passionate about the Bible. And the few days I had down there with him were great. I hadn’t expected to find another Christian in Florida like that. It was neat.

But I still thought it was a fluke. That is, until this last trip.

I had to fly to New Jersey to cover a product installation on McGuire Air Force Base, and because it was coming at the absolute worst time imaginable for us (and a budgetary issue) I had to make the trip an overnighter. We hired a videographer because we were also making a video out of this installation, and he traveled with me. I thought he seemed really nice. Come to find out he’s the technical director at a local church in Wichita and he watches Pastor on television! It was so refreshing to be able to sit and talk about missions and the Bible with him, discovering that his beliefs about everything from music to translations were almost identical to mine.

But that wasn’t the end of it.

We landed in Philadelphia, PA and the sales guy picked us up. And five minutes after we got in the car, his boss called him, asking why he had turned in his resignation. This was a surprise for me, because not many people resign from Viega. It’s a great company to work for. But the sales guy when on to explain that he was resigning because he and his wife felt called to plant a church in Rhode Island. He spent twenty minutes explaining to his boss how he and his wife had everything the world said made them secure, but that they wanted to do what God had called them to do in spite of the fact that the decision made no sense secularly.

When he got off the phone, both the videographer and I were so excited. And we all went around the car sharing our testimonies, talking about our churches and what God is doing in the world. We went ahead and went to the Air Force Base to scope things out, but afterward we went out to dinner and spent hours talking about faith and callings and the Bible. And it was awesome!

That night I went back to my hotel and lay awake for a while just thanking God.

It’s one thing to find believers at home. It’s another thing to go to a different state — one you’ve never visited — and find family you didn’t know you had. Between this sales guy and his wife and another couple of people who I think are some of the most amazing people in the world, I honestly think we may be on the verge of seeing revival in New England.

It’s so very easy to get tangled up in the day to day affairs of life. It’s easy to get so focused on what you’re doing in your life today that you forget to see what God is doing around the world, around the country.

God isn’t confined to your life. He’s out in the world, working through people every day. He’s working. He’s doing something out there. Do I know what it is? No. I have no clue. But He knows what He’s doing, and every event in life is evidence that He’s up to something big.

Leaving Kansas and meeting people who are passionate about God and about His Word helped me to remember that God isn’t still. He’s never still. He’s always moving, especially when it feels like He’s not doing anything in my own life.

It was beyond encouraging to remember that.

If you think about it, say a prayer for Gus and Debbie Piazza. They will be leaving New Jersey for Rhode Island in August, and they have no other source of income.

Tampa Traveling Update

Howdy, folks. It’s been a very productive day in Tampa today. The weather is nice, and I got a lot done. We got out to the new Dali Museum first thing this morning, and I interviewed the contractors while the Googled-Hired Photographer took spectacular photographs. After that, we bustled off to McDill Air Force Base and enjoyed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II in the lobby while I had by background checked (I have new respect for the Air Force now). Then, we ate lunch and the salesman dropped me off at the hotel where I have caught up my email and started on the Dali story. It has to be approved by both the project manager’s office and the mechanical contractor’s office before it can be printed, so I need to get it done very quickly.

Sounds like the weather at home is dreadful, so we’ll see if I actually get into Wichita tomorrow. I may spend the night in Houston.

Anyway, things down here are great. I’m looking forward to getting home, though.

Update on the day!

Hey, all. In case you were wondering, today was pretty fantastic. It was about 70 all day. The one downside is that we were supposed to be able to go to Busch Gardens to photograph a roller coaster that is going to have a ton of our products installed on it, but the contractor sort of changed his mind and told us we couldn’t go. =( I’m kind of bummed, actually. I really wanted to go.

But that’s okay.

We went to this GINORMOUS house on Manasota Key. It’s 25,000 square feet, has 8 fire places, a 20-car garage, five spiral staircases and an elevator. And it’s also full of our products, so we got a lot of good pictures.

The photographer I hired by way of Google seems to be a nice guy, and the salesman I’m hanging out with is also a very nice guy.

We’re chilling in a Panera at the moment becuase the hotel we’re staying in has an internet wifi connection that runs about as slowly as a snail. So we’re both catching up on email and I’m drinking  a huge cup of very strong coffee.

Tampa is kind of odd. Nice but odd.

And silly NOAA keeps saying that the weather on the way home is going to suck  big time, so we’ll see if I make it home when I’m supposed to. I purposely picked a flight that goes through Houston on the way home. The other option was Chicago, and I figured they’d be getting hammered too.

So, we’ll see what happens.

Thanks to everyone who prayed for me today. Please keep those prayers coming. I really really appreciate it!!!!

So when do I get a free Coca-Cola?

So it’s a really long story, but legend has it that you will have “arrived” as a world traveler when someone gives you a free Coca-Cola.

I never thought I could ever possibly in a million years classify for this prestigous honor.

I might this year, though.

Arkansas last week.

Florida next week.

Kansas City next weekend.

Delaware in March (maybe)

Alaska in April (a definite total long shot but still could happen).

Texas in May (maybe).

Guatemala in July.

And then I know I’m going somewhere in September or October.

And I simply HAVE to fit a trip in to Boston to see the Cummins family.

So . . . . . I’m really hoping that a free Coca-Cola is in the near future for me.

Written from Cousin Helen’s Kitchen

I am writing this morning from my cousin’s kitchen in Arkansas, listening to the coffee brew. I’m down here visiting family and buying half a cow with my mom and dad. It’s been ages since I’ve had good, fresh beef in my freezer, so this will be very nice. And the best part about it is that I got to catch up with my cousins that I haven’t seen in five years. I’m a dreadful cousin.

It’s crazy to me to see the kids I played with as a child with kids of their own. Considering how many My Little Ponies I got to hold and how many special tricks I got to bear witness to, I think I have been accepted into the category of playmate. I think everyone is going to come up and visit me soon, which will be a riot. I can’t wait to take my littlest cousins to the zoo . . . . but then, I can’t wait to go to the zoo again myself. =)

In any case, the verse today kind of made me smile. It’s one of those verses that Christians can really harp on, but a word in it really made me stop today.

Galatians 6:1

 1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer[a] is overcome by some sin, you who are godly[b] should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.

How many times does this happen? Where a believer sees another believer struggling with some sin and they take it on themselves to set that person straight? In my experience, people usually screw this up totally. They either ignore the problem entireliy or they throw themselves at it so violently, desperate to correct it, that they make the situation worse. The other possibility is that you who are trying to correct the others’ problem will end up falling into the same sin you’re trying to erase.

The big problem with all of these is us. We think that we can do something to convince somebody else to stop sinning. Well, guess what, folks? You can’t. The only person who can decide to stop sinning is the person who is sinning. They have to realize in themselves that what they’re doing is wrong and that it’s not helping them; then, they will be ready to stop.

The only thing you can do in the mean time is love them and pray for them and be there for them when they need you.

You also need to be careful that you don’t rationalize away your situation and say that you need to get on the other persons’ level to relate to them better. Now, there is a certain amount of relational positioning you need to do. Like if you’re ministering to a homeless person, you shouldn’t wear your best clothing and fancy jewelry. What would that say to them? Or if you’re ministering among people in Africa, you shouldn’t cling to your own culture and ignore theirs. However, you shouldn’t bend the truth of Scripture to serve “your ministry.”

I’m going to give an example and maybe some of you will disagree with me on this, but I want to share my thoughts about this. Again, I’m not saying I’ve got this figured out, but I’m pretty sure that I understand at least a little of it.

I’m writing a book. I know that’s no surprise to some of you since I write every day all day. But this book has taken up most of the last ten years of my life. I could have gotten it done sooner if little things like school and work hadn’t gotten in the way, but it very rapidly is approaching completion. This book isn’t for Christians; it’s a book about a Christian living among people who have made other choices. And personally I was tired of Christian fluff. I wanted bad guys who were really bad. I wanted good guys who weren’t perfect. I wanted a story that demonstrated how a Christian’s life isn’t perfect and how they make the same mistakes nonbelievers do. So the language in this book is rough. And the situations in this book are very far beyond what a Christian should be involved with in their lives. But I didn’t write this book for Christians. This book is directed to people outside the church — outside the faith; it’s purpose is to shed some light on what it’s like to be a Christian — and what it’s like to be a religious Christian who realizes how wrong she’s been.

Now, because I’m writing this book with bad language in it, does that give me the excuse to use bad language all the time? Does that give me the excuse to jump into situations that would compromise my witness. No. Absolutely not. I follow Christ so my life must never compromise what I believe, even if the people I minister to don’t live by the truth.

Granted, this example is for ministering to nonbelievers. Ministering to Christians is much much harder. Because Christians always think they’re right.

What we have to remember, though, is “there but for the grace of God go I.” There is no sin a Christian can fall into that can’t tempt another Christian so approaching a situation like what is mentioned in Galatians 6:1 with pride, saying to yourself that you’d never do something so foolish or you can’t be tempted by that, is stupid. But does that mean we shouldn’t help each other? Or does that mean we shouldn’t accept help from other believers?

No.

We’re here to help each other, to keep each other accountable, to offer a hand up back onto the path where God can bless us both. Refusing help when you need it is foolish, just like refusing to help someone who needs it is selfish. We are all a part of the Body of Christ, and — forgive me a silly analogy — but if the foot gets a splinter in it, don’t the fingers need to pull it out?