My unexpected path to career contentment

Sometimes I glance at the two diplomas on my office wall and think back to the sacrifice my parents made so I could get a college education. They wanted to be sure I had the chance to go “further” in life, since they only had the opportunity to complete 7th and 9th grades.

I worked hard to get those degrees. I can still hear my college advisors and professors telling me what an outstanding student I was, even naming me “Senior of the Year” in the College of Forestry.

It’s clear many people thought I had a lot of “potential.”

But here I am, over thirty years later, serving in an administrative support role.
Many of my high school and college classmates have achieved lucrative careers and lofty titles. In comparison, it would be tempting to feel as if I have failed to live up to my capacity or wasted my education. Continue reading “My unexpected path to career contentment”

The most dangerous heart failure

Sept-blog-heart-picture-1[1]We’re always hearing about the importance of taking care of our hearts.  Health advocates urge us to eat right, exercise, and keep our blood pressure and cholesterol in check.  Lately, I’ve noticed a television commercial that focuses on the connection between diabetes and a higher incidence of cardiovascular problems.

Yet with all these warnings, I’ve rarely heard anyone talk about the greatest risk factor of all: letting our hearts grow hardened.   I’m not talking about the organ in our chest that pumps blood—but rather, the figurative center of our being from which emotion, passion, and spirituality pulsates. Continue reading “The most dangerous heart failure”

Dethroning my social media god

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My mornings had fallen into a predictable pattern.

  1. Wake up.
  2. Eventually roll out of bed.
  3. Shower.
  4. Proceed to my laptop.
  5. Read and answer emails.
  6. Read national and local news.
  7. Scroll down my Facebook feed.
  8. Take far too much time on 5, 6, and 7.
  9. Realize I’m running late.
  10. Rush to cook breakfast.
  11. Quickly read a few Bible verses while scarfing oatmeal.
  12. Pray in-between bites.
  13. Hurriedly finish my makeup and hair.
  14. Dash out the door to work.

Then one day, as I was wishing I felt stronger in my faith, it hit me.

An idol had crept into my life. Continue reading “Dethroning my social media god”

Are you ready for Christmas?

unwanted-christmas-presents-ebay-sell-gumtree[1]

The calendar had barely flipped past November when I started getting the question.

“Are you ready for Christmas?”

Translation:  “Do you have all your Christmas presents purchased and wrapped, your house impeccably decorated, 100 Christmas cards sent, dozens of cookies baked from scratch, and holiday family gathering plans finalized?”

My typical response is, “Uh . . . not yet, but I’m working on it.”

What they don’t see, is that under my ugly Christmas sweater, I’ve broken out in red and green hives. Just thinking about the expectations behind the inquiry stresses me out.

One of my coworkers, however, doesn’t let it phase him.

It was only a few days into December when someone lobbed the question to him during a staff meeting. Without losing a beat, he responded: “YES, I am ready for Christmas.”

At first, we didn’t know whether to be impressed or jealous. But then he left everyone speechless when he stated matter-of-factly, “I’m ready because I have purchased zero presents and that is exactly the number I plan to buy.”

Inwardly I applauded his audacity for bucking the system.

“How nice it would be if ‘being ready’ didn’t equate to running about in a frenzy for a month and going into credit card debt,” I thought.

Then one day, I was poring over my mile-long holiday “to-do” list and flipped on the radio for some background music. As I numbly hummed along to “Joy to the World,” a phrase suddenly broke through and hit me between the eyes: Continue reading “Are you ready for Christmas?”

When nowhere feels safe

shoppers

I was standing in line at Walmart when the thought crossed my mind, “What would I do if gunshots suddenly rang out?” I knew it could happen, because shoppers in a Colorado store recently experienced it.

Driving home, I passed my church, and reflected on the massacre in a house of worship in Texas only a week earlier.

Nearby I saw the college where I work, and envisioned our regular “active shooter” drills.

It seems as if our country has become a place where we can’t buy groceries, attend church, or go to school without fear that bullets will begin flying.

Maybe like me, you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the rapid-fire succession of news stories detailing mass shootings. I’m almost reluctant to turn on my TV, computer, or smartphone, for fear of hearing about another incident. (In fact, since I began writing this blog, several more horrific gun violence incidents have been reported.)

It’s tempting to live in a state of denial, become de-sensitized to tragedy, or exist in a constant “fight or flight” mode in response. Yet none of these options are healthy over the long-term.

So, how do we keep engaging life with a sense of peace and purpose when nowhere feels “safe?”

Continue reading “When nowhere feels safe”