Monday, May 2, 2016

A POEM FOR MOM


Mother's Day is this coming Sunday.

I am so glad that my mother is still alive, and this year I am more grateful for her presence in my life than ever before - still my mom, still my friend.

To honor her, and the blessed calling of motherhood, I am sharing a poem I wrote several years ago.

Hope you enjoy it!



A MOTHER

She carries you for nine months,
Then cares for you
Forever...
She watches out for you
when you are young,
Then watches over you
for a lifetime...
She holds you closely in her arms
for a while,
Then tightly in her heart
Always...
She is there through every change,
Then never changes 
herself...
She teaches you about life,
Then lets you leave home...
and live -

A mother is
every gift of God
wrapped up in one person -
Joy, Peace
Patience, Kindness, Goodness
Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control
And most of all...
Love.

Though I am no longer a child,
I will always be 
My mother's child
And that is comfort personified -

My mother is
A safe place to be
A soft place to fall
A refuge in every storm...
She calms the winds of life
And helps smooth
the paths
I have chosen to walk.

I have never questioned 
Her love
or her faithfulness,
My faith in her
has never faltered...
She is the sun
that rises every morning,
And the promise
of a new day.

She is
The keeper of secrets,
The spark
to my dreams,
The footsteps
that walk beside me -
She is the one
on the sidelines
who whispers quietly,
with hands
folded in prayer
and
tears in her eyes,
"Go...go...go,
I'm here."

She is 
The quiet heartbeat
that keeps time
with my own...

My mother is
My best friend,
The beacon
of my life...

My mother is home...


© Sharon Kirby
May 10, 2007



I LOVE YOU, MOM!!




What's a favorite memory or moment of yours with your mother?





Her children rise up
and call her
blessed. 



Thank you, Mom, for leading me to Jesus when I was young.

"Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.  And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.  Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.  Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NLT)


And thank you, Mom, for always showing me how to follow Him.

"Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." (Proverbs 22:6, NLT)



**********
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all of you wonderful moms out there!!
**********



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, SMALL WONDER, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, LIFE GIVING LINKUP, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, MONDAY OF MANY BLESSINGS, THANK GOODNESS IT'S MONDAY, THE ART OF HOMEMAKING MONDAYS, MAKING YOUR HOME SING MONDAY, MUSING MONDAYS, MODEST MONDAY, MOTIVATION MONDAY, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, LIVING PROVERBS, REFLECT LINKUP, US, COFFEE & JESUS, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITE LINKUP, TITUS 2 TUESDAY, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TUESDAY TALK, TELL IT TO ME TUESDAYS, RA RA LINKUP, TEACHING WHAT IS GOOD, INTENTIONAL TUESDAY, WISE WOMAN, THE HOMEMAKING PARTY, TELL HIS STORY, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WOMEN WITH INTENTION, WAITING ON WEDNESDAY, SITTING AMONG FRIENDS, WEDDED WEDNESDAY




BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, April 25, 2016

OH LORD, I CANNOT...


Distraught.

Distracted, upset, worried, agitated, panicked, anxious, troubled...

You get the picture.

Have you ever felt that way?

Like life was crashing upon you, wave after wave, and you just can't catch a breath?

Growing up, my family loved going to the beach.

And we loved bodysurfing.

The challenge of catching waves and riding them into shore was great fun!

But one day, the surf was anything but friendly.

And I found myself in trouble.

The waves were particularly big, and kept coming closer and closer together.  I had to keep swimming out to dive under them before they crashed on me, which sometimes worked and sometimes didn't.

I can't tell you the times that I *wiped out*.

Tumbled and tossed, not knowing if I was up or down, panicking that I would ever surface again.  

Desperate for breath… 

Weary, and caught far beyond my ability to get back to safety.

That's the kind of feeling that I'm talking about.

Sometimes it doesn't take big events to make you feel this way – sometimes it's just the smaller stuff that piles up and topples you into a bundle of nerves.


Recently I spent two weeks with my mother.

We had a good time, though it continues to be a difficult journey.

Her helplessness increases, while at the same time her cognitive abilities decline.  And if anyone has dealt with a loved one who suffers from dementia, you know how challenging it is to walk this path.

On the day that I had to leave, things were in turmoil.

Mom has a very tough time letting me go now.

Even when I'm staying with her for a period of time, she is very upset when I have to leave for any reason.  She panics, and asks me over and over if and when I'm coming back.

And, when I tell her that I will be going home in a day or two, she falls apart.

Mind you, we have a caregiver who is with her most days, and my other siblings spend days with her during the week, too.  So Mom is never alone on any day.  But I think she gets used to me being there for longer periods of time, especially overnight, and it's quite disturbing to her when it's time for me to go.

This time was especially painful.

You see, a couple of days earlier, Mom did something to her back, and she could barely walk, even with my help.

And so, I know she was feeling particularly helpless and vulnerable.

My heart was heavy when I got into my car to leave.

On top of those circumstances, there was also *stuff* going on in the rest of the family.

Stresses and medical issues.

Job pressures and financial concerns.

It just seemed like every single person that I love was in some sort of distress, and I felt a deep disquietude in my heart.

Sigh.


I talked to God on the way home.

And later that evening, when I finally sat down, I wrote out my thoughts.

You see, I have this notebook.  

I wouldn't call it a journal, it's just something I write in when I'm nervous.  It helps to get the feelings out on paper.  It seems to lessen the endless ruminating that I do.

So, I wrote – sentence after sentence.  

Releasing a litany of fears and worries, frustrations and burdens.  

Cataloguing my "what if?" and my "why this?" and my "how will this ever work out?" thoughts.  My pen wrote as if possessed, driven by my spiraling emotions.

It has been a very long time since I have felt this helpless.

Oh, how I want to fix everything and make all the bad stuff go away.

I want to intervene, and meddle, and give everyone my opinion.

I want to tinker, dabble, shape, and mold.

I want to take over.

And yet, I can only listen and pray.

It's so hard watching life happen, especially when you have to watch people you love struggle.

I don't like it…

AT. ALL.


Finally, exhausted, I wrote the only other thing I could think of to say:

"Oh Lord, I cannot…"


I ponder those words.

Are they angry, frustrated, weary, broken?

Are they an expression of my fatigue or a plea for His help?

Are they an admission of my powerlessness or a surrender to His will? 

I think it's all of that.  

I cannot fix things.

I cannot change things.

I cannot make everything all right.

I cannot turn off my thoughts.

I cannot take another weary step.

I cannot make life work.

And I find it so incredibly difficult to trust God when things are hard and loved ones are struggling or suffering.

But then I realized the truthI have nowhere else to turn, and no one else to turn to…

"Oh Lord, I cannot…"


Quietly, I heard a reply:

"Yes, dear Sharon.  But that is the whole point.  YOU cannot…"

Then He reminded me of my life verses:

"Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6, AMP)


Yes, I realized, He isn't asking me to stop caring, or to stop doing what I can do.

But He IS commanding me to not LEAN on my own power to figure life out.  

My abilities are a faulty prop.

And if I lean on them, I will most certainly fall.

I must not rely on my limited comprehension, or put my faith in myself.  

Instead, I must learn to trust God more.  

And certainly part of trusting God is EN-trusting Him with the people I love so much, and committing their life circumstances into His hands.  

It's very hard.  

But in this moment, God reminded me that He loves them far more than I ever could.

He reminded me that He planned every single one of their days, including all the situations that I fret so much about.

He assured me that He listens and He cares.

And He commanded me to remember that HE is firmly in control.

Even when I feel totally out of control – even when I am anxious to take control.

He spoke again:

"Don't worry.  I've got this…"


Oh Lord, I cannot…

I cannot stop worrying without Your help.

I cannot watch life unfold without Your help.

I cannot surrender without Your help.

I cannot trust You without Your help.

I cannot take another step…


And then He spoke the most precious words into my troubled soul…

"It's all right, Sharon…

I CAN."



Do you ever feel that you *cannot*?  How does God speak to you in those moments?






When peace, like a river,
attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows
roll;
Whatever my lot,
thou hast taught me to say,
It is well,
it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet,
though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance
control,
That Christ has regarded
my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood
for my soul.

It is well with my soul,
it is well,
it is well with my soul.

(Words by Horatio G. Spafford, 1876)

















"'My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,' says the LORD.  'And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.'" (Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT)

"O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us.  Your plans for us are too numerous to list.  You have no equal." (Psalm 40:5, NLT)

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the LORD.  'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  In those days when you pray, I will listen.'" (Jeremiah 29:11-12, NLT)

"…the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations." (Psalm 33:11, NIV)

"The LORD Almighty has sworn, 'Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.'" (Isaiah 14:24, NIV)

"Commit everything you do to the LORD.  Trust him, and he will help you." (Psalm 37:5, NLT)

"Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you.  He will not permit the godly to slip and fall." (Psalm 55:22, NLT)

"I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken…Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.  My victory and honor come from God alone.  He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times.  Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge." (Psalm 62:1-2, 5-8, NLT)

"Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully." (1 Peter 5:7, AMP)

"The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm…'Do not fear…do not let your hands hang limp.  The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you…in his love he will…rejoice over you with singing.'" (Zephaniah 3:15-17, NIV)

"…the LORD is in his holy Temple; the LORD still rules from heaven."
(Psalm 11:4, NLT)



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, SMALL WONDER, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, LIFE GIVING LINKUP, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, MONDAY OF MANY BLESSINGS, THE ART OF HOMEMAKING MONDAYS, MAKING YOUR HOME SING MONDAY, MUSING MONDAYS, MODEST MONDAY, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITE LINKUP, TITUS 2 TUESDAY, THANK GOODNESS IT'S MONDAY, MOTIVATION MONDAY, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TUESDAY TALK, TELL IT TO ME TUESDAYS, RA RA LINKUP, TEACHING WHAT IS GOOD, INTENTIONAL TUESDAY, TELL HIS STORY, WISE WOMAN, THE HOMEMAKING PARTY, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WOMEN WITH INTENTION, WAITING ON WEDNESDAY, SITTING AMONG FRIENDS, WEDDED WEDNESDAY, THE LOFT LINKUP, ONE WORD COFFEE, GRACE MOMENTS, THANKFUL THURSDAYS, THURSDAY FAVORITE THINGS, LIVE FREE THURSDAY, PARTY AT MY PLACE, SHINE BLOG HOP, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, GRACE AT HOME, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, FROM HOUSE TO HOME, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAY, COZY READING SPOT, NO RULES WEEKEND BLOG PARTY, 100 HAPPY DAYS, BLOGGER SPOTLIGHT PARTY, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, EVERYDAY TESTIMONY, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, FAITH 'N FRIENDS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, GRACE & TRUTH, DANCE WITH JESUS, TGI SATURDAYS, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP & FAITH, WEEKEND WIND DOWN PARTY, LET US GROW, WORD OF GOD SPEAK, SMALL VICTORIES SUNDAY, GIVE ME GRACE, SOCIAL BUTTERFLY SUNDAY



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, April 18, 2016

HOW I GOT STARTED BLOGGING


Blogging.

Some people take to it like a duck takes to water.

Me?

Not so much.

In fact, I would call myself a most reluctant blogger.

At least in the beginning.

It's kind of an interesting story.  

Would you like to hear it?


In 2010 I decided to take a class on speaking.

A woman who used to be in my Bible Study group was teaching it.  She had a lot of experience in speaking – at conferences, retreats, ladies' groups, luncheons, etc.

Actually, I had never even considered taking the class until my Bible Study leader, a good friend, suggested it.

Well, more than suggested it.

She said, "God told me to tell you to take the class."

I believe that God talks to us, bubbles up His thoughts in our spirits.

And so, I believe that He did indeed lay this message upon her heart.

However, I wasn't quite so sure that He was speaking the same message to me!

So I used the proper *Christian* response when we don't really want to do something – "I'll pray about it."

But here's the thing.

The more I prayed about it, the more I started hearing the same thing!

Which was crazy!!

You see, I remember the 12 weeks our group had spent listening to this woman's "speaking class travails."  She cried, she was nervous, she felt inadequate, she felt overwhelmed.  Every week she asked us to pray for her as she prepared for the class, as she wrote another speech.

And then she would report to us how difficult it was to be critiqued.

Well, with this enthusiastic endorsement of the class, who wouldn't be eager to sign up?!

Me.

But, I kept hearing the Lord telling me He wanted me to do it.

And so, I did.

Yes, the whole experience was really difficult.  I also cried, felt nervous, inadequate, and overwhelmed.  I also found it emotionally excruciating to be critiqued.  And I asked for prayer every week.

In the end, though, God gave me a life-changing experience through the process.

And this speaking class was the springboard into blogging.

Here's the story on that…


About halfway through the class, our teacher told us about a Writer's Conference that was being held at a local church.  She highly recommended that we attend, as good writing is a crucial step toward good speaking.

One of the other ladies in the class and I decided to go.

We were so excited.

The morning of the conference, we got all dressed up in what we thought made us look like *real* writers.  We brought all our important note-taking stuff.  We practiced serious faces.

We loved the initial mix-and-mingle buzz in the room.

Then, just before the keynote speaker's presentation, my friend went to the restroom.

And promptly came back with another woman in tow.  (I think we women have a knack for making instant personal friends anywhere!!)

"Look who I met!  This woman goes to my church, and she's going to join us!"

Well, that was fine with me.

And so, the three of us immediately became fast friends.

Later that afternoon, there were breakout sessionsindividual seminars on all sorts of topics.  My two friends decided to go to the one that was all about blogging.

Nothing was less interesting to me than blogging.

I was and am not a social media girl.

At the time, I did not even own an updated cell phone.

And even the word *blog* bugged me to death – I couldn't even say the word without a "teenage valley girl" inflection in my voice:

"Hi, I'm Sharon.  I, um, like, live in Southern California.  I totally love walking on the beach, like, it's awesome.  I'm a Taurus, like, that means I'm ornery, whatever that means.  Hee, hee.  Oh yeah, and I, um, I blog.  Ciao!"

So I politely told my friends that I couldn't care less about blogging, it had zero appeal to me, and I'd catch up to them later.

That's when I went off by myself and had a good ol' meltdown.

I talked to my husband.  

I talked to my sons.  

And I finally talked to God.

I told Him how lost I felt, like I had no purpose.  I told Him how I didn't feel like I was good at anything.  The speaking class was terribly hard, and I wasn't doing anything with my writing either.

I told Him how useless I felt.

No thunderbolts.  No whirlwind.  No burning bush.  

No startling revelations.

But, I did feel a nudge.

"Go join your friends."

I wasted some more time, because I did not want to go hear anything about stupid blogging, Lord, thank you very much.

But, considering the fact that passersby were beginning to look at me weird, I decided to gather myself and move on.

Because, after all, who wants to see a sobbing woman in the lobby at a Writer's Conference??  ("Wow.  That must have been a tough rejection letter…")

I (reluctantly, unwillingly, grudgingly) joined my friends just in time for the tail end of the blogging seminar.  But, instead of listening, I doodled and sniffled and muttered under my breath...

"This is so NOT me."


A couple of months later, my friend – the crazy extrovert who makes lifelong friends in the bathroom – had started her own blog, and was applying lots of fervent pressure on me to do the same.

Finally, I allowed her to open an account for me.

"You've got to pick a name for your blog," she gushed.  "Something fun and catchy."

Fun and catchy.  

Not exactly my forte.

But I finally came up with something I liked…

Sharon Sharing God.

I thought of it because if I was going to attempt blogging, it was going to be all about God!  This was my whole desire – to serve Him in my writing and in my life.  And I liked the little wordplay of sound-alike "Sharon Sharing."

Who could have known that six long years later, I would be the only person still blogging?!

Well, God did.

The irony does not escape me.

Me, the most reluctant blogger, still at it and still enjoying it!

Blog Land is where I belong.

I have found it to be a place of comfort and inspiration.  A place to connect and make real friends.  A place for God to use His words through me to help others.

A place to wrestle with my own faith, and an avenue to encourage others in theirs.

My blogging has evolved.

I can see how my writing has changed.  How my format has changed.  How God has developed something that I am truly blessed by.  (If you're interested, my first blog post can be found here).

And, after all is said and done, God has taught me a thing or two through this blogging journey!!


1.  Be careful what you say *no* to!

God has a sense of humor.  I'm convinced of it.  And He is at His funniest when He brings to our lives the very last thing we want.  Not troubles or trials, but opportunities that we think we will *never* do.  It is much better to really and truly pray about these things, for they just may be the very moment that God has planned for us all along.


2.  Listen to your friends.

There are times when our friends are invaluable conduits for what God wants to say to us.  They can encourage and cajole us, prod and coax us, counsel and advise us.  And sometimes, they really do hear from the Lord, and can speak a message into our lives.  Sometimes they can be wrong – but if they're saying the same thing that the Holy Spirit has been niggling you about, well, I'd pay attention!


3.  Sometimes God knows us better than we know ourselves.

Sometimes we may think that we'd never be good at something, it just isn't "our thing."  But, God knows our hearts, and He knows how He made us.  And the very thing we don't consider as a possibility may be just the thing that allows us to blossom in our faith.  God wants to use our unique talents and abilities, and He knows best what they are.  He knows the shape and color of our threads.  Let's trust Him to weave us into the place that we belong.


4.  God likes to take us out of our comfort zones.

Growth happens when we are stretched.  When we reach a point where we cannot do something on our own.  God loves to step into those moments.  He often opens opportunities for us that make us feel inadequate or unprepared for.  This is when He shines!  He delights in giving us strength in our weakness, power in our feebleness, and comfort when we're out of our comfort zones.


5.  God delights in showing us His purposes.

I marvel at the fact that if I had kept saying no to God's invitation into blogging, I would never have discovered some of His purpose for me.  God wanted me to write, and He knew how much it would fulfill me, while at the same time fulfilling His purpose for me.  If you truly want to serve the Lord, be ready for Him to show you what that looks like.  And be willing to venture forth, even if it doesn't look like what you thought it would look like!  God has given each of us spiritual gifts, and He enjoys revealing them to us and through us to others.  And no one cheers louder than Him when we use them for His glory!


So, there you have it – my blogging autobiography.

It's been quite a journey.

A journey I never expected taking in the first place.

But God…

God had an idea.

He had something He wanted me to do.  

And He found a way to get me to do it.


Sharon Sharing God.

I can still hear Him chuckling…



How did you start blogging?





I write because the words
burst forth from
within me.

And God is faithful
to keep filling me
with

His words. 



SSG Blog Trivia: I usually tell people that I have an online devotional.  I guess I still haven't made peace with the word *blog* – though I have coined this tagline – which you'll see at the end of all my blog posts:

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Fun and catchy, huh?!



"Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made." (Isaiah 43:7, NASB)

"For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)

"For God's gifts and his call can never be withdrawn." (Romans 11:29, NLT)

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work." 
(1 Corinthians 12:4-6, NIV)

"As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart.  Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do…" (Ephesians 6:6-8, NLT)

"Therefore I…beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God." (Ephesians 4:1, NLT)

"…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." (Philippians 2:13, NIV)

"…may he equip you with all you need for doing his will.  May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him.  All glory to him forever and ever!  Amen." (Hebrews 13:21, NLT)

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14, NIV)

"…my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God." (Acts 20:24, NLT)

"The master was full of praise.  'Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful…'" (Matthew 25:21, NLT)



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, SMALL WONDER, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, LIFE GIVING LINKUP, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, MONDAY OF MANY BLESSINGS, THANK GOODNESS IT'S MONDAY, THE ART OF HOMEMAKING MONDAYS, MAKING YOUR HOME SING MONDAY, MUSING MONDAYS, MODEST MONDAY, MOTIVATION MONDAY, INSPIRE ME MONDAY, LIVING PROVERBS, REFLECT LINKUP, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, TITUS 2 TUESDAY, TELL IT TO ME TUESDAYS, UNITE LINKUP, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TUESDAY TALK, RA RA LINKUP, TEACHING WHAT IS GOOD, INTENTIONAL TUESDAY, WISE WOMAN, THE HOMEMAKING PARTY, TELL HIS STORY, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WOMEN WITH INTENTION, WAITING ON WEDNESDAY, SITTING AMONG FRIENDS, WEDDED WEDNESDAY, THE LOFT LINKUP, ONE WORD COFFEE, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, GRACE MOMENTS, THANKFUL THURSDAYS, THURSDAY FAVORITE THINGS, LIVE FREE THURSDAY, PARTY AT MY PLACE, SHINE BLOG HOP, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, GRACE AT HOME, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, FROM HOUSE TO HOME, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAY, COZY READING SPOT, NO RULES WEEKEND BLOG PARTY, 100 HAPPY DAYS, BLOGGER SPOTLIGHT PARTY, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, FAITH 'N FRIENDS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, GRACE & TRUTHDANCE WITH JESUSTGI SATURDAYSFAMILY, FRIENDSHIP & FAITH, WEEKEND WIND DOWN PARTY, LET US GROW, WORD OF GOD SPEAK, SMALL VICTORIES SUNDAY, GIVE ME GRACE, SOCIAL BUTTERFLY SUNDAY




BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, April 11, 2016

CUSTOMER SERVICE WOES


WARNING:

Pet peeve rant ensuing…

Customer service.

I hate to say this, but sometimes the two words don't go together.

I have had recent experience with this.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a letter.

A letter that necessitated action on my part.

And so, of course, since Murphy rules the world sometimes, the letter arrived after hours, on Friday, so I had to wait all weekend to do something about it.

This is one of my nightmares.

I'm a *get it resolved as quickly as possible or I'm not going to be able to stop obsessing thinking about it* kind of girl.

And so, anything that comes to my attention that I can't fix right away, well, it niggles at my mind…

ALL. THE. TIME.

Finally, Monday morning arrived, and I was ready for action.

Evidently, the customer service department was not.

To my great dismay, I could not get past the automated voice system.

I am sorry, but I like talking to a live person!

And usually, I'm able to thwart the system.

Sometimes I'll just keep hitting "0" until Annie Automated gets frustrated with me – (HA – tables turned!)and transfers me.

Or, sometimes I'll just refuse to press ANY button.

After a handful of repetitions, Annie gets her circuits all twisted – and transfers me.

But this morning, I must have been dealing with Annie's sister, a much savvier and impatient woman named Agatha.

I tried my multiple-0-pushing method.

I tried my sit-and-do-nothing tactic.

I tried.  

And tried.  

And tried.

Nothing worked.

All I got was a disembodied voice that said, "We're sorry you're having trouble. Please try calling again later."

And then the call was disconnected.

GRRR!!!

Unwilling to give up so easily, I actually ended up calling back several times.

Like I wasn't able to fully believe that I was beat.

Until I finally realized how ridiculous it was to keep doing the same thing, with the same futile result, over and over (and perhaps over and over) again.

I finally hunted down another number associated with the company, and tried that.

Imagine my great relief when an automated voice (oh, the irony) told me to wait for the *next available representative*.

That sounded like a person, so I waited.

(Take that, Annie and Agatha…)

I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

For at least 15-20 minutes.

But finally, I was rewarded with a voice.

A real, live, actual, person's voice.

"Can I help you?"

Oh yes indeed, you can.

And, wonder of wonders, this person was actually very helpful (thanks, Nicole!)

When all was said and done, I had spent more than two hours resolving the problem.

Why on earth, you ask?

Let me tell you.


1. Calling "The Hub" to direct him where to find the pertinent paperwork.  (I was out of town at the time).

2. Waiting for him to find the proper paperwork.

(This in itself was like negotiating a peace treaty, in two languages):

"Where is it?"
"In that green file in the second drawer in the filing cabinet."
"Ok, give me a minute..."

(Insert the sound of opening drawers, and rustling paper)

"Is it the file that says_______?"
"No, it's the other one."
"In front of that one?"
"No, behind."
"The one that says_______?"
"Yes!"
"Ok, what do you need?"
"The envelope stapled to the letter."
"Which envelope?"
"The one with my notes on the front."

(More rustling...)

"The one that says_______?"
"Yes!  My hero!!"

(I think you get the picture.  No slam on "The Hub" – it's just that I'm the filing person in our household, and I know exactly where things are.  Trying to convey that information over the phone was challenging for both of us!)

3. Writing down the information he gave me.

4. Double-checking the details (as I wasn't able to look at it…in person!)

5. Multiple phone calls.

6. Wrestling with Annie and Agatha.

7. Searching on the Internet for alternative customer service numbers to call.

8. A coffee break.

9. One phone call, multiple minutes on hold.

10. Yakking about the problem.

11. Writing down everything that transpired.

12. Double-checking that everything was indeed in order so that I wouldn't have to start this time-wasting, mind-numbing process again!!


Suffice it to say, when the problem was finally resolved (thank you!), it was after lunchtime.

Sigh.


OK, I will officially step down from my soapbox now, but the whole situation got me thinking about service in general.

How is the word service defined?

Service – something done to help, be of benefit, or contribute to the welfare of others; useful labor; to wait on

As believers, we are called to service, right?

Well, actually, the more I thought about it, the more I began to realize that we are called to more – not just to give service to others, but to become servants.

Because God is always more concerned with what we are than what we do.

A servant is a person who is devoted to or guided by something – or, in our case, Someone.

Jesus calls us to follow Him, to follow His example.

And He certainly led the way in teaching us what it means to be a servant.


I think of some important things:


1. Be humble

Jesus purposefully, humbly set aside many of the privileges and power of being God.  He deigned to inhabit flesh, condescending to lower Himself to become one of us.

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant…" 
(Philippians 2:5-7, ESV)


2. Be unselfish

Servanthood implies an *other-person* orientation in our thoughts and attitudes.  It is the intentional act of looking outward, inside of myopically focusing inward.

Jesus was all about other people.

"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:3-4, ESV)


3. Be available

There’s nothing worse than needing help and not being able to find it.  Being a servant means being accessible, ready, reachable.

Just like Jesus was.

"'Give to everyone who asks you…Do to others as you would have them do to you.'" (Luke 6:30-31, NIV)


4. Be knowledgeable

Part of being a good servant is knowing the Master – what He's like, what He expects, and how best to accomplish His purposes.

Jesus had a close, intimate relationship with the Father.

Being a good servant to others demands that we also know our Lord well.

"But grow in grace (undeserved favor, spiritual strength) and recognition and knowledge and understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (the Messiah)." (2 Peter 3:18, AMP)


5. Be helpful

This might sound like a no-brainer, but think about it.  How often are we inclined to offer advice, point out flaws, do things our way, fix and fiddle, judge and condemn – all in the name of "serving"?

Jesus always took the time to find out what the other person truly needed.

"…give generously to others in need…Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." (Ephesians 4:28-29, NLT)


6. Be patient

Helping others is sometimes very difficult.  People can be stubborn, and they can work against our best efforts.  They can test us and try us and drive us to distraction.

But Jesus didn't give up on others.

We shouldn't either.

"Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]." 
(1 Corinthians 13:7, AMP)


7. Be kind

Have you ever thought about this – Jesus was a gentleman, a gentle man.

His heart was tender and compassionate, merciful and forgiving.  There was a kindness in all His dealings.

We will be much more effective when we serve others if we use honey instead of vinegar.

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander…Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:31-32, NLT)


Customer service.

Sometimes it drives me crazy, because I am anything but served well.

I don't want to be like that…

For I am called to follow Jesus.

Called to be a servant like He was.

Called to acts of service to others as a manifestation of my devotion to Him.

I want to do it well.

I want to be humble, unselfish, available, knowledgeable, helpful, patient, and kind.

I want to lose my life for His sake.


And, just for the record, I am totally looking forward to eternity – when the only customer service I'm planning to deal with will be serving the Lord forever...

...alive and IN PERSON!



Are you busy doing acts of service, or learning how to be a servant?






Anticipation,
anticipation
Is makin' me late
Is keepin' me waitin'...

(by Carly Simon) 



"God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts.  Use them well to serve one another." (1 Peter 4:10, NLT)

"…use your freedom to serve one another in love.  For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" 
(Galatians 5:13-14, NLT)

"…we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (Acts 20:35, NIV)

"…one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant." (Luke 22:26, NASB)

"'For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.'" (Mark 10:45, NLT)

"'And he sat down and called the twelve.  And he said to them, 'If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.'" (Mark 9:35, ESV)

"'Give, and you will receive.  Your gift will return to you in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap.  The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.'" 
(Luke 6:38, NLT)

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9, NIV)

"If someone…sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God's love be in that person?  Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions." (1 John 3:17-18, NLT)

"And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'" 
(Matthew 25:40, NLT)

"Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God.  So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin.  Then he began to wash the disciples' feet, drying them with the towel he had around him." (John 13:3-5, NLT)



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