Labor of Love: Part III

Do you trust God to provide a good job for you?

Read the passage in Matthew 6:25-34

Thirty years ago I found myself in an unwelcome predicament. I quit a good job because my eyesight was declining rapidly from the strain of proofreading work. I had a new job lined up that I was excited to start, but during my training period on the new job I discovered I would have no guarantee of full-time hours after my two week training ended. At my interview I was told I would have a permanent position in a few weeks.  That was not the truth. I accepted the job on false information. I felt betrayed.

Devastated by the news that I may only have 8 hours of work per week due to the nature of the job, I panicked. All I could do was cry. My father had died recently and my mother depended on me for care. We moved but hadn’t yet sold our former family home so my financial responsibilities included two households. What would I do? Frantic and frazzled, I cried more. I was a complete basket case.

I considered crawling back to my former employer even though he told me “not to let the door hit me on the way out”.  Humiliation and my eyesight would have to take a back seat to survival for the moment, I thought. But before I made any firm decisions, my kind trainer, who knew my situation and rising fear, did something quite unusual.

On company time she took me out to breakfast at a nearby restaurant. My face still beet red from crying all morning over my situation, my trainer had a heart to heart talk with me. She explained    the benefits of sticking it out at the new job. She was ready to retire and told me the retirement benefits alone were worth the uncertainty and inconveniences of the job especially if you were a one income household. She paid for my breakfast and I returned to work after I gained some composure and reflected on all she had said.

Later that day, fear invaded my mind and body like never before. I called several friends and my Pastor who each prayed for me over the phone. I had to make a decision soon. Bills were pouring in and my Mom was riddled with her own set of bizarre behaviors due to fear.

One particular friend came to the house to see me specifically to sit and read scripture to me. It was the second act of kindness and mercy during this time of adversity. As she read, my spirit settled a bit. With renewed faith in the provision of God, I decided to stay at the new job.

1989

My training period ended and I had one eight hour shift assignment for the following week.  Panic began rising again but I reported for duty that day inspire of it by the grace of God.  I discovered that someone who had just become full-time had suddenly quit. I would now be able to slide into their position immediately.  I couldn’t believe it… it was something akin to a miracle for me!

Everyone at the new company was surprised by this news, for it was unheard of to quit this type of job that was so difficult to acquire. I found out later that my full-time position became available because another young woman ran off with one of her customers. I heard he was a traveling salesman. I don’t know if that was true or a bad rumor but I gratefully accepted the position she vacated.

2000

Currently I’ve been with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission now for almost 30 years with a good retirement ahead of me. I have had some other lean times but God has always faithfully taken care of me and my needs.

Don’t doubt HIS provision for you. Trust Him. If HE took care of me, HE will take care of you.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 New Living Translation

Shine on. . .

2018

karan k

Labor of Love: Part II

 

As we said in Part I, to FLURISH on a daily basis, we need to enjoy our work. God gave us the privilege of work because idleness is unhealthy for us. We need purpose to FLURISH and work is a substantial part of that.

Do you know your purpose and are you enjoying it? Huge CONGRATS if you can say yes to both!  Share some of your tips on self discovery and why you like your job. For the rest of us, read on:

If you are not in that blessed situation, where are you today as far as your job and purpose are concerned?

Are you unemployed and scared?

Or  perhaps seeking a job better suited for you and your purpose?

 

Do you view work as a gift from God ? That He gives you specific skills to use your gift? Our attitude is an important part of being successful in our purpose and our ability to enjoy  work. A good attitude frees us more than we may realize.

If you’re currently unemployed and scared I want to encourage you not to give up hope and realize God already sees you and your need. El Roi is the Hebrew phrase for the “God Who Sees Me”, it’s one of God’s names you can pray when asking Him to help you in your situation.  (Read the story of Hagar in Genesis 16) He will help you find a job that fulfills your purpose and bring fulfillment to your heart. However, you may have to do some things in preparation for that future position:

Some work requires skilled labor. Natural skill and learned skills alike. Do you know what your skills are? And don’t say you don’t have any skills, because God gives them to all of us. Some are easier to recognize than others, but God does provide skills naturally in us.

“. . . and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze. . . He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn. . .”
Exodus 35:31, 32, 35 New International Version

We need to proactively discover and develop whatever skills we find within us. Whether its crafting something, communicating people skills or a service type skill, each one is important and needed in God’s scheme of things. He created so many unique individuals each with their own set of distinctive abilities.

Skills, Knowledge, Abilities

Our heavenly Father eagerly desires to join us in taking the adventurous journey into uncovering what He’s creatively placed inside us. If you haven’t taken this trip yet begin talking to Him about it and wait for his direction. Then follow His lead!

Some jobs require furthering our education. Ask God for financial resources IF He leads you back to school. Or if you’re young and continuing to study in preparation to enter the work force, ask Him for guidance on what schools to attend, classes, every detail. Pray about everything!

Our God promises to supply all our needs including employment opportunities. As always MJT! Must Just Trust!

 

 

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:19 New Living Translation

 

Shine on. . .

karan k

Labor of Love: Part I

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15 New International Version

I recently spoke to a woman who’s struggling in her current employment. She asked for prayer. She enjoyed her former job immensely. Said she felt coworkers were more like a family than staff. But the company folded without warning and now she found herself in this new employment position simply so she could survive financially.

Job loss, bills keep pouring in…

 

I also have a precious family member who’s been down this same traumatizing road of surprise job loss multiple times over the course of the last 15 years. The struggle is real and intense for many.

Perhaps you can relate or you know someone who can?

American workers normally spend 40 plus hours a week working at the same job. In the United Kingdom workers are considered full time after as little as 30 hours in some cases. German workers have 6 hour work days! The UK also has a ‘working time directive’ law limiting how many hours one can work in a certain time frame. Not a bad idea.

Africans can work up to 45 hours a week by law but not more. Australians typically have a 38 hour work week. In China, the hours for businessmen and women parallel the US and the UK, but the Chinese factory workers are less fortunate. It’s not unusual for them to work 16 or 17 hours each day 6 days a week!

In 2014 U.S. News reported German workers worked the least and Mexican workers labored the most during that calendar year. The U.S. fell somewhere in the middle. But as of this writing most countries are falling in line with the 40 hour work week standard with any hours beyond that considered overtime.

Work and the time spent traveling to and from make up the largest percentage of our waking hours for the longest chunk of our lives. It’s estimated that over 90,000 hours comprise the average workers time spent on the job during a lifetime. Add in travel time and roughly a third of our lives is devoted to work.

Let that sink in. Work is one third of our life!

Do we see the need to enjoy our work? God gave us the privilege of work because idleness is unhealthy for us. We need purpose to FLURISH and work is a part of that. We cannot FLURISH if we never enjoy our work.

Happy businessman sitting on chair in green field

Note Genesis 2:15, here God gives the care taking work of the garden to Adam. It is PRIOR to the Fall of Man. Work was NOT part of the curse. Work was designed to help fulfill us and enrich us. Work is actually a gift God gave us.

Does your work strike you as a gift?

Are you between jobs?

Or are you like the woman in the introduction who is now struggling to survive in a job she hates?

We will explore these questions and more next time. Until then ponder what your work means to you.

Shine on. . .
karan k

To What End?

 

“Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” Colossians 4:6 New Living Translation

My husband has this little idiom he uses quite often when I am prattling on about something or someone. . .  he’ll matter of factly ask, “To what end?” My agitation soars. My impulsive mind doesn’t usually entertain this question especially in the middle of some  frustrating diatribe. But it’s certainly worth considering now that I’m calm enough to give it some real thought. My mind turn to this verse:

“Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.” II Timothy 2:16 New Living Translation

TO WHAT END? Such a small phrase with humongous implications! How often do we consider the end of a matter? Do we even have an end in sight? Do we just talk to hear our own voices? Do we fall into a merry-go-round of fussing and fuming or perhaps gossiping? Yikes!

I know there are times when my mouth just rolls because I can’t seem to let go of something. And it always seems to be something negative. When’s the last time you rattled on about something good? Something Philippians 4:8 good? Like meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious, the best, the beautiful ?—- The Message paraphrased

Why is that?
Aren’t we to be edifying and encouraging each other regularly? Building each others faith with the good things of God? Telling good stories, lovely memories, strengthening verses, recalling His love in our everyday lives?

Sometimes it’s a challenge to keep a positive focus in this current era of history.

The world where we abide is moving faster and faster away from God and His ways.  It’s a dangerous place to live.  But it’s all  happened before. . .

“The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. . . Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” Genesis 6:5 & 11                   New International Version

These verses occur just before God informs Noah of the coming flood that will wipe out and clean the earth of every wicked thing. Only Noah and his family and a set of every kind of animal would be saved.

In His Word, God our loving Father warns us over and over that wickedness is again increasing.

 

“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will arise and deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Matthew 24:10-12 New International Version

Read the following passages to get the full scope.

Daniel 12:4, II Thessalonians 2:9-11, II Timothy 3:1-5, Matt 24:21-22 Jude 1:18-19

Current National unrest

We must help each other now and in the future to get through these increasing times of wickedness, to uphold righteousness in a world going mad. Here in the U. S. we see it escalating now as we are torn apart as a nation over idiotic things to the point of irrationality and violence. This divisive hatred has not  been seen since the days of the Civil War and it will only get worse as the passages above foretell.

 

Brother against Brother

“This is why you must encourage and help each other,  just as you are already doing.” I Thessalonians 5:11 Contemporary English Version

 

Our great God is trying to warn us. Stand up. Encourage each other to be strong so we can be a safe haven for those who have not yet found salvation in Christ and the hope that we have for the future.

“. . . while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” Titus 2:13 New Living Translation

What is more uplifting than to be reminded of the great hope of Christ’s return and eternity with Him? It’s the ultimate GOOD END and it’s forever.

 

That’s what I want my END to be—- writing and speaking words of an uplifting nature, encouraging anyone who will listen. In this temporary existence I choose to use sweet words toward others and beyond that, strong, loving words of beseeching, if necessary, so they will see the coming Kingdom and be saved while there still is time.

To What End are you living?

Shine on. . .
karan k

Ain’t No Fairy Tale: Part VII

 

So now you’ve heard the many sides of our story. But what is your story? Are you a step-mom, dad or child? Are you considering becoming involved in a step-family relationship? Share your experiences in the comment section.

I must tell you as I wrap up this series that I was blessed to have a dear man and sweet girl to blend into my life. I remember early on when I first met Cortney that her heart held innocence and compassion and I didn’t want that spoiled. If ever there was a child I could nurture, she would be the one. It was an extraordinary honor to help parent her.

I thank God for the precious gifts of Cortney and Dwight. He used them to teach and mold me into more of the likeness of Jesus. It challenged, scared and frustrated me many times but oh now to look back, it was worth it all!

Unfortunately, this is far from the norm. Wicked step-children do exist. We know of one family where the daughter detested her step-mother so much that she put something caustic in the step-mother’s face cream. The results were disastrous both physically and emotionally.

Another incident involved a boy who wanted people to know he hated his step-father. He carved permanent vulgarities and hateful messages concerning his step-father into walls and doors of the home. So much pain in both cases and so many other stories out there remain hidden.

Likewise, wicked step-parents also exist and I wish I could say they do not. It’s difficult for some people to love children who are not their own flesh and blood. Anger and resentment are evils that run amuck and develop into all sorts of abuses if not covered by the grace, healing and mercy of Christ.

I felt like a wicked step-mother in my heart early on because I didn’t want to share my new husband with anyone, even his young daughter. I knew this was selfish and I tried to fight it. I prayed Cortney never noticed or felt the sting of my sin. The last thing I wanted was to hurt her or Dwight and risk a failed marriage.

 

The enemy used shame often to discourage me telling me I was an unloving mother, a selfish wife and a failure. But Jesus’ strength through the Holy Spirit was my rock so I wouldn’t give up. HE was my gentle guide, helping me overcome the discouragement and immaturity the enemy kept throwing in my face.

In time by the grace of God I learned to rejoice over special dates when Daddy and Daughter got together on their own. God replaced my selfish possessiveness and insecurity with wholeness and generosity so Dwight and Cortney could be free to love each other and me. I am so grateful the Lord was patient while I learned!

“HE won’t brush aside the bruised and hurt reed and HE won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but HE’LL steadily and firmly set things right.” Isaiah 42:3 The Message

 

A little over three years ago we gained a new member in our family. Someday maybe I’ll tell you more about this precious young man.

2015

In conclusion, if you are contemplating getting involved in a step-family relationship, please count the cost first. It’s a complicated and difficult endeavor.

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?” Luke 14:28 New Living Translation

If you’re already in a step-family and desire to succeed:

Keep focussed on Christ and encourage family members to do the same: you can’t do it without Him.

Talk as a family often and in openness.

Pray together as a family.

Remember, you’re not alone even if you feel like it. You’re surrounded by a world filled with blended family members. Find some healthy ones and support each other.

At the least, I’m sure you have friends or family in step-family situations. Do me a favor and pray for them. Being a successful step or blended family is not easy, it’s hard work. It can be discouraging and at times, destructive. But when it works it can be a thing of beauty shining glory on our great God whose love conquers all!

 

Four Happy Clams 2018

Shine on. . .

karan k

Ain’t No Fairy Tale: Part VI

 

So, you’ve heard the step-mother and step-child’s perspective on the challenging experience that we will call family blending. There is however, another perspective that is missing in this story. Who could we possibly need to hear from yet, in this compelling step family saga? I’m glad you asked. . . that would be me, Bio dad, (a.k.a. daddy, Honey, and “that guy. . .”). Yes, I’m the biological parent in this series. Not only am I a biological parent, I’m a recovering a step-parent, and I’ve been a single parent as well. . .  I know, don’t ask.

While my perspective may be somewhat unique, I certainly don’t have all the answers. Any advice I share with you, will primarily come from my mistakes rather than my successes, unless otherwise noted. In other words, “this is what I did, and it didn’t work, SO DON’T DO THAT”! (Sorry, didn’t mean to yell.)

I mentioned I was a step-parent. In retrospect, my first foray into the role of step-parenting was more a rescue mission, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Twenty-six years ago, I “stepped” into this world rather naively, with visions of Mike and Carol Brady dancing in my head. This was my mission and I chose to accept it. (I know, I watched way too much TV as a kid). This child needs a father and by golly, I’m going to be THAT father.

My idyllic visions of how this was going to work soon hit the proverbial brick wall. There was fighting, manipulation, thinly veiled threats, and outright rebellion. And all this from a step-child under the age of six. How could this be I thought, I’m only trying to help. The bio father was gone and they needed me. Many times, I felt like the odd man out. It was me against them. Frequently, I was just the “guy my mom married”. Let me tell ya, there was nothing sit-com worthy going on in that home. Reality TV, maybe, but we’re talking early 90’s here, so that wasn’t even on the horizon yet.

dating three weeks at this point

So fast forward thirteen years, the marriage has ended. My youngest daughter and I are now alone, and to her chagrin, I meet someone. That someone is the author of this series, parts 1 – 4 and 7, and my daughter wrote part five. How about that?

the new woman, now wife

I’m now the bio parent bringing a new woman, a step-parent into my daughter’s life. I would love to say I gained volumes of wisdom from all the mistakes made from the first go around but alas, God had more for me to learn.

Read part 5 if you haven’t done so. (Actually, read the entire series). You will see my daughter initially struggled with the “other woman”, but I moved forward seemingly oblivious to the depth of her struggles. I did, however, notice she was more withdrawn and angry, but I reasoned that his was due to the divorce and her age. She was after all, a young pre-teen. I could at times, sense the tension between my daughter and my new wife. I mean, I’m not a complete blockhead. I just didn’t know what to do about it. I was pulled in two directions and I didn’t always handle it correctly. I had two women to keep happy. Think about that fellas!

As my daughter said, in her post, we should have all sat down together and had a rap session. [Rap: To talk or chat . . . and no not with Kanye or 50 Cent]. That’s an old 70’s term for sitting down and talking. I should have been more open with her. Explained to her what was going on and tried to reassure her that I still loved her and was not looking to replace her. In reality I wanted to enhance her life with a Godly female influence. I knew she needed that as she matured, and I couldn’t provide that for her, for obvious reasons.

On a positive note, at my wife’s insistence, we did go to a counselor as a family. My daughter initially resisted but, she has always been teachable and went along even though it was hard for her. It made us aware of what we were facing. Through that experience, we learned principles that helped us grow together. Family blending is something that should always be approached with eyes wide open.

So, what made the difference between the first and second step-family situation? There is a Biblical principle that tells us to count the cost before we do anything, found in the 14th chapter of Luke. James 1:5 says that if we lack wisdom, we should ask for it. Proverbs 3:5 & 6 tells us not to lean on our own understanding. . .These aren’t just do’s and don’ts God puts out there because He can. No, they are there because He can see things we can’t. He can see the heartache, the pain, and destruction that awaits by going down certain paths.

Before embarking on the second experience, we indeed counted the cost as much as possible by seeking wise Biblical counsel, together and separately. We were as open as we knew how to be with each other as to what our family values were and what we expected from the marriage and family experience.

Another strategy suggested to us by a dear friend and counselor was to extend our engagement for no less than one year. In doing this, we could all see how we would each function over an extended period, through holidays, change of seasons, extended family relationships etc. Seems trivial but, we have seen first-hand, this notion of “love at first sight”, and quick engagements and marriages, is nothing more than romantic fantasy, better left for Hollywood screenwriters, that generally never works long term.

 

All parts of this plan helped us present a united front to each other. Without that, the divide between all blended family members will deepen to the point it becomes irreparable. Thus, the sad marriage statistics listed in part 3 of this series.

At the time of my first ill-fated journey into family blending, I was living a very different kind of life. One completely devoid of any reliance on Jesus and His Word. Instead, I relied on my own flawed understanding and skewed thinking. I failed to implement any part of the plan listed in the subsequent paragraphs. As a result, all involved are now statistics and damaged goods on some level. Oh, that I had looked to the Lord to direct my paths.

Thankfully, God has promised, according to Joel 2:25 to restore the years the locusts have eaten. This is a promise we have stood on throughout the last 13 years. He has been faithful to us and has rewarded our faith in Him immeasurably. I’m also eternally grateful for my wife and my daughter’s unconditional love for and patience with me. What a long and fulfilling trip it’s been. (There’s kind of a song in there somewhere, isn’t there?).

Shine on. . .

dwight k