Posts Tagged 'Job loss'

Hai Karate

Years ago my family and I lived in the small Texas panhandle town of Pampa.

Pampa is about 60 miles north and east of Amarillo and, on a windy day, the dirt from the Oklahoma panhandle comes over to pay it’s respects.

Pampa is filled with wonderful people who, due in part to it’s remote location, develop close and lasting relationships.

Church and School are the center posts of most social interaction, so involvement in both is essential, unless you prefer to live life as a hermit.

While we were living in Pampa, we attended the First United Methodist Church and “belonged” to a very active sunday school class of middle aged married couples.

Although we were involved in many different activities, one annual event always comes to mind as wee approach the holidays.

The annual white elephant gift exchange.

As many of you know, a white elephant gift exchange is where everyone brings a gift, most are something you wouldn’t think about giving to a friend and are sure to bring a groan from the receiving party and jeers from everyone else.  But that is not where the fun ends.  The receiving party is then given a chance to trade their newly acquired prize for something others may have already opened.  The fun goes on until the last present is opened and the last present is exchanged.

This particular sunday school class had an ongoing annual white elephant gift exchange.  It continued on unbroken for many, many years, so much so , there was a list of gifts that were certain to show up every year.  As a result, new ways of disguising the same old gift became an art form.

There was the string art pictures, a rubrics cube (unsolved), and many others but the longest running gift was a bottle of Hai Karate.

For those of you who are too young to remember, Hai Karate was a designer fragrance developed by the Leeming division of Pfizer launched in 1967.

This bottle was complete, in the box, with the small “self-defense”, instruction booklet that was sold with each new bottle.  It started to evaporate, and the color was changing from it’s original shade of green to a greenish swamp water color.

Still, the Hai Karate was passed from one unsuspecting victim to another, from year to year.  Each year it was accompanied by a list of recipients dating back to the gift’s origin.  The list of names was impressive.  It included lawyers, doctors, judges, plant managers, teachers, and house wives.  All unwitting recipients unable to convince others of the value this humble bottle of cologne offered if they took it off their hands.

Nevertheless, the Hai Karate held some strange attraction.  As much as the recipients moaned at it’s unveiling, there was some hidden feeling of belonging attached.

For the first time recipient, perhaps, it was the opportunity to have your name added to the long list of those who went before.

For the repeat victim, it might be the opportunity to once again join the game and spend the next year creating the perfect ruse successfully hiding the contents of the package.

Even today, these many years later, I think fondly of the time I fell victim the the Hai Karate gift.  I remember how everyone cheered when I ripped open the gift wrap revealing the prize within.  How I pleaded, in vain, for someone to trade their equally useless gift for mine.  Even the pats on the back and handshakes coupled with feigned condolences at having taken one of the perpetual relics of the annual event.

More than that though, I think fondly of the friends and fellowship this event created and sustained.  These friends were always near, even in the darkest or most difficult moments.

In the end, it is all about the relationship.  So much like the rest of life, we sometimes unwrap the beautiful package, full of expectations and excitement, only to find a bottle of Hai Karate.

It might be a move away from friends and family, job loss, or even something like a debilitating illness.  None so easy to get rid of as to pass on to another unsuspecting victim.

When these things happen, we often hear the words of offered condolences, and the gentle hand on the back as someone attempts to console or reassure.  More often these are only outward gestures and are often laced with judgment and condemnation.

It is the silent knowing of a true friend, who without a single word, reassures and comforts.  Who, because of their relationship, know what you need.

These are people you want to be near you in time of trouble.

The bible speaks of this relationship in Proverbs 27:9  “Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.

When no one else is there, God is, and he will help you get back in the game.  He will help you prepare for the next white elephant gift, life dumps in your lap.

He will comfort you with just his presence.  He knows, more than anyone, what you need and it won’t be laced with judgment and condemnation.

In the end, it is all about his relationship with you.  Take a look at that bottle of Hai Karate and find that hidden opportunity to learn and grow.  Add your name to the list of previous recipients, as you do not walk this road alone, as long as he is present.

En servicio como Padre

Dave

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A Father’s Provision

I have been receiving a great deal of email and prayer requests from this blog lately.  It seems to me that many of God’s people are under attack in many ways more than they have been in past years.

Given what I have seen and the prayers, Marsha and I have been raising up for many of my readers, I thought it might be helpfull to revisit a post from last year.  Entitled simply “Provision”, it seems this post is relevant to where many are today.

Please keep in mind that God is the provision for all of our needs:

Provision

As I was reading the Lords Prayer, in Matthew 6:9-13, I was struck by verse 11.  In this verse it says “Give us this day our daily bread”.  I began to think about my greatest fears as a father.  High on the list is that, as a father, I would lack in the area of provision for my family.  I can’t think of anything that is more degrading than for it to be said “he was not a good provider”. 

The world today, is full of judgments.  We see it in our work environment, in our childrens sports events, in our church services, everywhere we turn.   We have become a society of judges.  Gary Carpenter, in his lesson “Distinguishing Provision From Stewardship” relates the following: “The Holy Spirit reminded me of my paternal grandfather’s farm and how each of the sons and daughters had work to do every day as “their assignment,” their “contribution” toward the common goal of “reaping a harvest.” All of the children knew that the harvest belonged to grandfather. None of them had the mindset that the harvest, even a portion of it, belonged to them personally.

However, they also knew that when the dinner bell rang every night, they each got to sit and dine from grandfather’s table not because they had “served him well that day,” but rather because they were grandfather’s children. Grandfather expected them to eat from his table until they were full. Their provision was not proportioned to them based on their “performance” that day on the farm.  No, they were expected to take all they wanted from his table simply because they were his children.”

Who among us would hold back, from our children, any part of what we need to survive because they didn’t work as hard or as long as we thought they should? 

Provision in this form is a military term which has to do with a supply of food or other necessary items.  These items are stored up and used as necessary to maintain the ability of the troops to do battle.  When the provisions get a little low, supplies must be brought in so the troops will not fail for lack of provision.

 This is the part where fathers begin to break into a cold sweat.  We think that if our supply lines are ever cut, we will be marked for all eternity as a poor provider.  What we fail to realize is that it isn’t about creating something to replenish the provisions, it is about knowing where to go to assure there is a steady and sure supply line to our provision.

We try to make it about us.  We make it personal.  We fear we will be labeled a failure.  In reality it is about how we assess our situation and communicate it to the person who can deliver it to our storehouse. 

Fatherhood is an art.  It takes practice and sometimes failure to be be great.  The art is in knowing that provision is always there. The application comes in trusting God for all our provision.

 En servicio como padre

Dave

Leading from the Bottom

I have spent a significant part of my adult life working in industry. Over the years I have seen good and bad leaders with varying degrees of effectiveness.

Much of what I have taught, and been taught, about leadership over the years was of limited use in sculpting me into a true leader. Most was the flavor of the day.

As those of you who are regular readers of Dad Talk already know, a number of years ago I found myself without a job for the first time in my adult life. It was a devastating time and a crush to my personal self esteem. I had been a successful leader for many years and held a great deal of pride in my ability to lead and advise other leaders.

Over most of the next year, I found myself questioning almost everything I thought was true. I questioned my knowledge, my intelligence, my understanding, my relationship with God, and most of all myself.

As the months passed by, with little success in landing a job, God began to deal with many of my illusions about myself. He broke my pride and showed me that I was no better than the Savior I professed to believe in. He told me, through a close friend, that “Jesus bent down so I could be made great”. Translated, if I believe Jesus was the greatest leader of all time, and I believed my goal in life was to be more like Him, I had to understand; “if Jesus could bring himself to the lowest point in the human structure, to be treated like an animal, like something without a soul, how could I expect to lead with so much pride”.

As a father, before the job loss, I treated my wife and children with a certain amount of disdain. After all, I was very successful, there wasn’t anything they could tell me that I didn’t already know. I was arrogant and condescending. Not the type of person anyone would like to follow.

During this time I learned many lessons about many avenues of my life, but when it came to leadership, I began to learn about practical application of the leadership model Jesus followed.

Once on the bottom you soon see things from a different perspective. You begin to identify with those whom you have previously seen only as a means to an end. You yourself now embody every bit of what that means. You know the strapping of not having enough, the importance of making your boss happy no matter what they want, no matter how ridiculous, you know the subtleties of innuendo and manipulation as you must to survive.

In my present situation, I am back in a leadership position. I am now charged with helping a business manage it’s people and build it’s strategy. As a father and husband, I am now, once again, responsible for leading my family in a meaningful relationship with each other and with our faith.

I am now aware of what it takes to become a “servant” and to lead from the perspective of a “servant”. I will always appreciate the sacrifices others make to help our team, and our family be successful.

Leading from the bottom, is about realizing none of this is about you. None of the success you have in life or the prosperity you presently are blessed with is because of you. It is about doing everything with a perspective of how it impacts others rather than yourself. Leading from the bottom is about paying forward, about recognizing that all you have is because of your relationship with Him and is strengthened by your ability to humble yourself in every circumstance.

En servicio como padre
Dave

The Dark Place in my soul

There is a dark place deep inside of me. This is a place so deep it is seldom seen or heard from. It’s a place I don’t want to acknowledge is even there.

I have spent a lifetime trying to deny the existence of this place and have expended vast amounts of energy attempting to hide it from any outside eyes.

From time to time this dark place attempts to expand beyond it’s place of residence. At these times, the darkness bursts forth like a long sleeping volcano, erupting into the open and covering all who are near me.

It wasn’t until recently that I could even put a name on it. I have wrestled with this darkness and it has limited my ability to fully love and grow.

If we are fully honest with ourselves, we will all, at minimum, feel pangs of guilt around the fact that we all have a dark place in our soul.

I recently experienced one of these eruptions. After months of seeing friends and those I respect experience financial strain, family and health problems, and even job loss, the darkness of the deepest part of my soul washed over my wife and filed my home with a fog of bitter emotion.

In the midst of the devastation, as I sulked in a remote part of our house, God showed me something incredible.

In Psalms 139:12, King David noted;“even the darkness will not be dark to you, the night will shine like the day, for darkness is light to you.”

He, God, sees us in our darkness just as if we are in the light. He sees the intentions of our heart and in His love He sends his healing light to us, as in Psalms 31:16; “Let your face shine on your servant, save me in your unfailing love.” The eruption from the dark place in my soul was intended to destroy me and my relationship with those I love. Because of my continuing walk with God, it only succeeded in creating a few cracks in my human psyche.  
The lyrics of the Leonard Cohen song “Anthem”, reveal a spiritual truth:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in 

Through the crack in my feeble psyche, God enters with His healing light and the dark place in my soul is constantly burned away, giving way to His great light.

En servicio como padre

Dave

 

Magnificent Whispers

During this time when so many people seem to be under great attack, in one form or another, God is revealing His incredible ability to communicate to us.

So many people I meet today are just like me.  We have endured 2007, a year of repeated enemy assault.  Many I have met have lost their jobs.  Some have lost their health.  Still others have had their confidence shaken because they have not seen answers to their prayers.

 In the past month, 2007 is finishing with my exiting the ranks of the actively employed.  At 57 years of age I find myself looking at a new year, 2008, with no present or steady income.

As a father, I hear the prayers of my youngest son when he asks for God to help me find a new job.  I hear the concern in his voice, but I also hear the sound of true faith in his level of expectation.  He knows God has been good to us and he knows he will not stop now.

It may seem odd, but I to have approached this latest battle with a new confidence.  A confidence that passes all understanding, a confidence that says, “this is all part of God’s plan”.

Over this past month God has begun to reveal Himself to me in a whole new way.

In the past He would speak to me during my prayer time in thoughts and words.  Sometimes I would even hear his audible word, when he really needed to get my attention.

Recently though, God has begun to reveal Himself to me in what I have come to know as “His Magnificent Whispers”.  Much like Elijah in I Kings 19:12, “And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice”.  I hear much noise and activity in the world around me, but I do not find God in these events.

He has been drawing my wife and me into a more intimate understanding of Him.   We have both been filled with a great, insatiable desire to know more of Him.  To hear his words, not with our ears, but with our hearts.

As we keep our face to the North, He speaks to our heart in words that are so quiet, they seem deafening.  Take the recent experience of a rainbow.  This rainbow, set in the northern sky, was so vivid and clear it consumed the entire sky from horizon to horizon.  Yet there was no sun.  The sky was still clouded over and completely overcast.  His whispers so quiet said “I have given you a promise.  That promise will not go void, I will fulfill as surely as this rainbow reaches from west to east”.  Not as word was said, but our spirits knew the words of God’s Magnificent Whisper.

In the still of the night, God awakens me.  I know that I must pray, but know not what for.  There is just a knowledge that I must remain in a state of prayerfulness.  His Magnificent Whispers speak of His love for His people.  He shares His heart about the days ahead, the days of fulfillment.  The days of victory for those that have been oppressed.  Those that have lost, those that have grown weary of battle.  “Victory is on the horizon, says the Great and Glorious God.  Make ready for I shall fill their hearts with joy and their loves with prosperity.  No more will they be in pain, no more will they be sick”.  These are the words that are so quiet I can’t help but hear them, God’s Magnificent Whispers.  Not a word have we exchanged we just know.

I encourage you to seek after the heart of God, to quit worrying about how to hear His voice.  Just fill yourself with God’s word, get still, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you into His presence.  Once there shut out the noise of the world around you and concentrate all your love on Jesus.

He will speak to you in His way.  He will reveal Himself to you, so quietly, and so softly, that you will hear nothing but His Magnificent Whispers.

En Servicio Como Padre

Dave


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