More About Laments

I have a random mind. I have all sorts of songs playing in my head all the time that seem to almost come out of nowhere. Also, I don’t know why certain topics come up in my head at random times, but today, the theme that popped up out of nowhere was that of laments as a form of praise.

I took a class in early spring about Laments. Basically, a lament is a form of gut-level honesty that most of us are afraid to express. It’s along the line of the Psalms where David wonders where God is in the midst of his suffering and why evil men seem to prosper and live long lives while the righteous lives are short and full of woe.

I think my takeaway from that class is that a lament is not only a viable form of worship but also a necessary one. It’s good to vent. It’s good to give voice to anger over injustice and wrong and take it to God, knowing that He will be the one to repay the wrongdoing.

I’ve figured out in my own life that I can take my frustrations, complaints, and doubts to God. He already knows my deepest thoughts in spite of my dressed up prayers that say what I think He wants to hear instead of what’s on my heart.

A good place to start to discover the lost art of the lament is the Psalms and Job. Oh, and there’s a little book called Lamentations. I’d also check that one out, too.

Above all, God desires honesty and transparency above praying the “right” words in order to sound more spiritual. In the words of the old MTV reality series, maybe it’s time to stop being polite with God and start getting real.

Finding What You Love and Loving What You Do

I attended my company’s 55th anniversary celebration at Maggiano’s on West End. One of the unexpected highlights of my evening was watching the balloon guy.

It probably doesn’t sound like something a grown up would enjoy, but this guy was incredibly talented and obviously enjoyed what he was doing. I never thought making balloon animals and such could be an art form, but this guy elevated it to that level.

That’s the ultimate goal of everyone who works for a living– finding that dream job where you get to do what perfectly suits your talents and passions. Something that doesn’t feel like work most of the time.

The reality is that most of us for whatever reason aren’t in a position to live out that dream job fantasy. Most of us have to make the best of the work situation we’re in.

My advice is to treat it like your dream job. Find the parts that you enjoy and do those with great enthusiasm. Whatever you do, remember that your employer is ultimately God, so work as though you reported directly to Him (which you ultimately do), and not for a human boss.

“Work is love made visible.” That quote still haunts me long after I finished the book. That sums up everything. If you view your job as an opportunity to serve others —  whether that be customers or fellow employees– it changes the way you view what you do. It changes your whole outlook to where you actually care about making a difference versus merely earning a paycheck from week to week.

Whatever you do, do it with love. Do it as unto the Lord, as the verse says. Remember that your job is not your whole life. You still have family and friends and hobbies and other things. Bear in mind that you do spend most of your waking day working so make it count for good.



Another Post About Nothing

Am I the only one who has no idea what day this is?

That’s what a holiday weekend will do to you. You have this nice extended weekend then reality comes in and sucker punches you in the face. Tuesday becomes Monday on steroids.

Still, it’s been a good week. As my boss from my old job said to me, “Any day without a toe tag is a good day.”

Last time I checked, no toe tag. Thus, it’s a good day.

I can tell that it’s slightly less hot and humid out there. Every now and then, I can feel a fall breeze blowing. I’ve even been able to drive home a few times at night with the windows rolled down (which I recommend you do whenever possible). It helps if you have good music playing loud during the drive.

Today, I choose joy. I choose to be happy. I choose to participate in my own life and not set the day on auto-pilot. There will never again be another day like today for as long as I live.

I choose to live it.

The end.





Labor Day 2016

First of all, Lucy the Wonder Cat thanks you for reading all my blog posts. She would type this herself, but she has called it a night already and is snoozing away contentedly on the pillow beside mine.

Labor Day marks the beginning of the end of summer. Apparently, after today, it’s not fashionably correct to wear white. I suppose the same goes for all my Hawaiian shirts.

It also means we are closer to my favorite season, fall. It officially starts in 17 days, but here in the great state of Tennessee we can expect hot and humid weather for at least another month. That’s the way we roll in the South.

On this Labor Day, I’m thankful to have gainful and meaningful employment. Last year, I was a month into a temp assignment with All American Pest Control. This time around, I am full-time and feeling quite blessed.

If you’ve been one of those who is always complaining about your job, try going without one for a while. I’m not recommending you stay at a job you hate, but I am suggesting that being in a job that is less than ideal is better than not having a job at all.

In general, life is a lot better when you have gratitude and thanksgiving versus bitterness and complaining. Being thankful for what you already have makes for peace while coveting and striving only lead to stress and burnout.

I choose to be thankful every day. Some days I do better than others. But every single day that I wake up is another opportunity to choose to be grateful and thankful, because every single day is itself a gift.

My idea of celebrating Labor Day involves as little labor as possible. Lucy’s idea involves as much napping as possible in a 24-hour period. I think we all know who’s winning right now.


The Workplace as An Altar

“When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music” (Kahlil Gibran).

There’s a famous little book written centuries ago called Practicing the Presence of God that came out of a monastery. The author was a man whose livelihood was as a cook and dishwasher.

There has been a false dichotomy between the sacred and the secular. There has been an underlying and unspoken rule that you can only worship in places considered sacred and holy. You can only worship on Sunday.

The truth is that the admonition is to do all that you do to the glory of God and to offer your bodies as living sacrifices as your act of worship. That includes your work day.

When you view your job not as drudgery and a paycheck but as a calling and a mission field, it changes the way you work. You go from doing the bare minimum to giving your very best. Your job goes from performing tasks to serving people.

You may not be in your dream job. You may wish that you could be someplace– anyplace– else other than where you are. The best advice I can give to you (that did not originate with me) is to bloom where you’re planted. Thrive in your present circumstances by learning to cultivate a heart of gratitude.

I can certainly attest to what it’s like to go through long periods without having a job. Not only does it drain the bank account but it affects your sense of self-worth after a while.

The best testimony I know of is someone who does everything with joy and gratitude. That’s what makes people stand up and take notice. No one cares about your faith if you have a bad attitude and a poor work ethic.

So make your workplace an altar and your job an offering.


One Year Later

It dawned on my today at work that it was exactly one year ago that I started my first day as a temp at All-American Pest Control.

I remember that I was originally only supposed to be there for two weeks, but they kept extending my assignment and finally hired me in December. I suppose hard work really does pay off.

I do know that what really pays off is almost too simple to be true, but it is true. My goal is to to the best job I can today and not worry about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow.

I love my job because I know what it’s like not to have one. I know what it’s like to feel defeated and purposeless (plus broke from the lack of income). It can be very demoralizing if you let it.

I give thanks every day for having a job, even one that has a lengthy commute (plus waking up at an ungodly hour of the morning). I’m thankful that what I do is making a difference, albeit small, in people’s lives. Me doing my job with a good attitude not only benefits the customer but also my fellow employees.

I truly believe that everything you do to the glory of God is sacred and everywhere you work can be a mission field and a ministry. Your best witness is your work ethic and your attitude. As I was reminded again, you and I are the only Bibles that some will ever read and our actions (way more than our words) will go a long way toward attracting people toward or repelling people away from the God we serve.

Attitude is everything. The best attitude is the one that receives everything as a gift and is thankful for the little things. That makes a world of difference.

All Is Still Grace

That’s it. At the end of the day, all is still grace.

That breathing in and breathing out thing you’re still doing? Grace.

Being able to see and hear and touch and feel and smell and live? Grace.

That job that you go to every day and the car you drive in to get there? Grace.

The food in your belly and the pillow beneath your head at night? Grace.

Karma is you getting what’s coming to you. Grace is you getting what you never expected in a million years and never counted on because you knew you didn’t deserve it.

Waking up tomorrow to a new sunrise and new mercies? Grace.


What to Do in Light of Recent Events

Alton Sterling. Philando Castile. Brent Thompson. Patrick Zamarripa. Michael Krol.  Lorne Ahrens. Mike Smith.

These are the names of the men who died recently. They were all human beings, created in the image of God. They were all people that Jesus bled and died for. That gives each one of them great worth and should merit our grief at their passing.

Based on what I heard in a sermon today, this is what I believe we should do in light of these recent tragic events.

  1. Pray. Pray a lot. I don’t mean the polite and genteel kind of praying that you do before meals or in Sunday School. I mean the kind where you come boldly before the throne of grace with sighs and groans and tears of intercession. Pray like the life of the nation depended on it, because it very well may.
  2. Don’t jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts. It’s typical to assume that a) anyone shot by a police officer must automatically be a criminal and a thug in the very act of committing a heinous crime or b) that any police officer who shots anyone of color must automatically be a racist. The mistake Job’s friends made was trying to figure out who to blame instead of trying to ease the pain of Job’s suffering.
  3. The best thing Job’s friends did throughout the story was what they did first. They sat down in silence with their friend in his grief and pain. They didn’t offer words. They offered their presence. Maybe more than all our explanations or arguments what people need from us is our comforting presence, to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.
  4. Confess that while we may not be racists, that’s not enough. Too many of us watch in silence and do nothing in the face of great evil. Our silence often equates to our consent of the evil. We must repent of a long history of impeding the quest for racial equality and harmony. We must do better to love our neighbors who don’t look and speak and act like us.

I must confess that I have too often rushed to hasty judgment instead of rushing to my knees in prayer. I confess that I have harbored prejudicial thoughts toward those different than I. I confess that I was one of the ones who gave consent to evil by my silence rather than speaking out against the wrong.

Lord, forgive us all. Lord, make us one as you are One. Lord, help us to love our neighbors and ourselves as you have loved us.



Every Little Thing Matters

“Lord, when I feel that what I’m doing is insignificant and unimportant, help me to remember that everything I do is significant and important in your eyes, because you love me and you put me here, and no one else can do what I am doing in exactly the way I do it” (Brennan ManningSouvenirs of Solitude: Finding Rest in Abba’s Embrace).

That’s it.

As Mother Teresa once said, there are no great acts, but rather only small acts done with great love.

To put it another way, when done out of the right spirit, out of a genuine and abiding love for Jesus, everything you do and say can become an act of worship. Even cleaning toilets or scrubbing floors. All those menial tasks that don’t have much inherent value can be living prayers if they’re done as an offering to Jesus.

That makes all the difference in drudgery and delight, between surviving and thriving.

Maybe you’re not exactly in the high-profile career you thought you’d be in by now. Maybe you’re not pulling down the big bucks.

Then again maybe your job is to make a difference in the lives of those people in your office. Maybe your best gift is to be quite possibly the only positive light to someone who otherwise only exists in darkness.

Maybe you don’t have to go to seminary and get ordained to have a ministry. Maybe your ministry is you showing up every single day and giving your absolute very best for eight hours.

Maybe if you’re faithful in the little things over time, God will entrust you with bigger things down the road.

Or maybe you’ll get to the end of your life and realize that all those little things done with great love really were the big things after all.


Mission Accomplished

It may not sound overly exciting, but I got a few things done tonight. I paid a couple of bills and finally got around to my 2015 Federal Tax Returns. For some reason, I put my taxes off, and when I do get around to them, they really aren’t so bad.

Here’s my take on the day.

The morning and evening commute? Not my favorite.

Having a job to commute to and from? Totally worth it.

Having to pay bills? Not so much fun.

Not having to write checks and lick stamps and remember to put them in the mailbox in the morning? Win.

Having the money to pay the bills and not having to worry about it? Priceless.

Having my taxes done and over with until 2017? If I weren’t so tired, I might break into a happy dance. Maybe I’ll settle for a happy nap instead.

Perspective is my new mantra. It’s all about perspective.

I could complain about how sore my feet are from the journey or I can choose to sing along the way. I choose singing over complaining. It’s better for you.

Choosing to see the blessings instead of the burden isn’t always easy, but it is most definitely alway worth it. If you look for God’s gifts in the every day minutiae, you end up seeing God there. You see God’s hand everywhere you turn.

If you look for joy, you find it. If you look for bitterness, you find that, too. You really do find what you’re looking for in the long run.

All that to say that the most important part of this Thursday is that I’m still here, therefore God must have a reason for me being here. I will celebrate another day of life successfully lived.

I say that qualifies as mission accomplished, don’t you?