Category Archives: Work

Lessons from the Front Desk and Beyond

926338625-canstock5690339 My husband and I spent the past year doing volunteer work at Hephzibah Children’s Home in Macon, Ga. For us this was an opportunity of a lifetime! Most of our lives we have been involved in raising children, six of our own and three foster sons as well as other foster children and at one time we had even talked of opening a children’s home of our own one day. But it just wasn’t in God’s plan for us.

We had been serving as volunteers at the Children’s Home for several years, first with church groups and later going there for two weeks each year with another couple, so when the option came to serve long term we gave it serious thought and began to pray and seek God’s direction. It took almost three years before the way would be clear for us to make a one year commitment. We set the date for April of 2016 to April 2017.

We are both thankful for the opportunity and glad that we took this step in faith to serve God for that year at Hephzibah! Our only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner when we were younger and in better shape.

This past year has been an experience in faith, faith for strength to serve, faith for good health while we served, and faith for God to watch over our family that we left 950 miles behind for a year. And God did not disappoint!

There were many great experiences during our year of service. Experiences in learning new skills, in meeting new friends, and seeing new places. But the greatest experiences, for me, were the lessons learned at the front desk of the administration building where I spent many days filling in the gaps for the regular receptionist and as an interim receptionist between the permanent receptionists.

Now I will have to admit that it was no secret that this was not my favorite assignment while I was there. My favorite assignment was working in their donation center where I did sorting, organizing and distributing necessary items to the children and staff. This work gave me instant gratification and “felt” important and appreciated. And I worked alone a lot of the time so I could work at my own pace.

But the most valuable lessons are always learned in community with other people! I often felt that my contribution as a receptionist was small because I “just” answered the phone and greeted people directing them to where they needed to go or who they needed to talk to. Not exactly earth shaking work but as time went on and I had the opportunity to interact with many of the kids, staff, other volunteers and even the vendors and service people and I found fellowship, blessings and enjoyment in the work.

It is sad but true that it wasn’t until the last couple of months when we were completing our year and preparing to return home that I really began to realize the learning experiences God had blessed me with at that front desk as I interacted with the Hephzibah community. Not only did I learn the skills I needed to do the work but also some lessons that are still ongoing today in changing my life!

I learned what it is to accept people where they are and that everyone has a story if we are willing to listen;  that everyone needs encouragement (even those who may seem to have it all together); lessons in being accepted just the way I am and accepting encouragement as well.

In the area of communications; lessons about when to speak and when to be still, and especially about when to humble myself and ask forgiveness when I mess up the proper sequence.

My husband and I learned some things together as well.

God blessed us with time to get away from the hustle and bustle of a blessed but busy life. And after 52 years of marriage, six married children, three foster sons, fifteen grandchildren, five great grandchildren, friends, church, and community, we had built up a lot of hustle and bustle back home.

We had more time to pray and listen for God, to stop and smell the flowers and to enjoy new experiences, make new friends and create new memories. We were often able to minister one-on-one to staff, kids and other volunteers whenever and wherever God gave us the opportunities, and we learned to accept the ministry of others to us.

Other lessons learned: 

We can live with less

Our children and grand-children can survive without us (they knew that but I didn’t)

We can still work five days a week but not as fast as we once could

We can still be useful even though we are retired

And solitude is not necessarily a bad thing

But for me the best of all was that our year at Hephzibah gave us the opportunity to serve God and do ministry together in a place we love. A place where we were blessed and hopefully blessed others. A place where we worked alongside some amazing people who often face struggles and many of the challenges that every ministry experiences, yet they remain faithful and passionate in serving at risk teens and children who have been neglected and abused, and they share with them that they are loved, that they are the King’s Kids!

For most of us “baby boomers” retirement offers many great opportunities for travel, winter homes in the south, and cruises and all that is great. We have been blessed with some of these opportunities as well.

But for my husband and I, we will always be most thankful for this opportunity.

It’s been a great year!

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Filed under accountability, Children, communication, enjoyment, faith stages, Family, humility, quiet, self-examination, Work

Phony Ponies and Brass Rings

Dennis the Menace

Have you, like Dennis, ever found yourself on one of those rides that are fun but don’t really get you anywhere. I can think of several: the Merry-Go-Round, the Ferris Wheel, the Tilt-A-Whirl or the pony rides at the fair where the ponies are harnessed together and just travel in a circle. Or, in these days, it may be watching reality shows, (that are anything but reality) or gaming on the TV,  the computer or a cell phone. All of these can be exciting, tickle our tummies, give us a thrill and a rush of adrenaline. And we may even get the elusive brass ring on one of those trips around on the carousel or reach level 377 on one of the games. I think my husband has about 3 million dollars in play money in his Poker Mafia account right now. If only  that were a reality!

Then the ride comes to a stop, and the show or game is over. The excitement begins to fade and we may be left feeling a little dizzy or maybe a little nauseated from the spinning. It was so much fun but soon the thrill is gone and we are off looking for the next fun ride, game or reality show. When it’s all said and done we have had a lot of fun but haven’t actually gotten anywhere.

Now don’t get me wrong, I always loved the thrill of a fun ride as much as the next person and I like a little TV entertainment and a good “Words With Friends” or “Trivia Crack” game. A trip to an amusement park is a lot of fun and I have had many of those trips to parks and fairs that have provided  many great family memories. But when we leave we are exhausted and can’t wait to get home and get some rest. Even fun can be exhausting!

The problem begins when we don’t know when to get off the phony pony or realize the brass ring is only a souvenir and not the answer to our future. At some point the park closes and the lights go out and we have to go home. The show is over, we reach the max level and/or the max number of points in the game. But in our own real world, called the game of life, nothing changes. We make no advances where life really matters, we have nothing to show that matters in the game of life which will include eternity.

The problem is when we keep going in circles and never leave the “Amusement Park”. When we  become obsessed with always looking for the next exciting ride that will offer us a big thrill or a bigger prize; the next level to be conquer,  more points  to earn. We find we are still alternating between the  merry-go-rounds and the roller coasters in life but without the brass rings, the prizes or the points.

And so what’s a person to do?

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy“.  (Maria Edgeworth)

The answer? Balance and all things in moderation!

The Bible makes it clear that God wants us to enjoy life and work hard to have a productive life here and that will extend into eternity.

 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)
Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:3)

Are you a little our of balance these days? Maybe it isn’t to much play but maybe it’s to much work?

Are you spending more time with the phony ponies and reaching for the brass rings than striving for the prizes that will last?

The little Dennis cartoon above has given me food for thought and called me to do some evaluating in this area for sure!

How about you?

 

 

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Filed under enjoyment, Family, fun, play, Uncategorized, value, Work