The Unglamorous Mission

Let’s face it. To many of us in the Christian faith, missionaries are rock stars. They go off to foreign lands, risking life and limb to do God’s work. They come back with amazing testimonies of healing and miracles and if we’re honest we get a little jealous. At least, I do. That’s because I would love to do what they do. I want to serve God in a big way. Being a missionary seems big and everything else seems small to a human’s way of thinking.

But we need to look at it from Jesus’s perspective. In Luke 15:4 Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” He shows us that God cares about all his children individually. He doesn’t care more about the poor in another country than he does the rich person in America who doesn’t know Him. Missionary Heidi Baker has said, “Missions isn’t about where you are. It’s about where He is.”

Last summer I read Heidi’s book, Compelled by Love. It really got me interested in missions and I longed for an opportunity to do it. I wanted to travel to another country and minister to the people there, to pray for them. Little did I know he had an assignment for me right here at home.

I’ve written about my assignment at work on this blog. I know it was an assignment because He specifically asked me to do it. I was asked to pray and be a conduit for the Holy Spirit in my office. I prayed for Him to change the hearts and minds of co-workers and I worked to promote communication and team work at all levels, to support the ones who were discouraged, to show that respect and love work so much better than intimidation and manipulation.

It has taken me awhile to realize that this was a mission. God gave me the testimonies of international missionaries to prepare me for a spiritual fight in my workplace. It was difficult, it got ugly, but I continued to pray for all of us to pull through it because God loves the people in my office just as much as He loves people in other countries.

Nobody is going to write a book about it. I’m not going to get on stage somewhere and give the testimony. To us it seems so small, but to God it’s huge. When we change our perspective on what’s “glamorous” and what isn’t we see that even the smallest thing done for the Kingdom really isn’t small at all.

Put Up or Shut Up

Last week, I went to a conference at my church entitled “Naturally Supernatural.” My church has a healing ministry where “prayer servants” pray for anyone and everyone who comes through the doors every Monday night. This workshop was to teach both members and leaders from other churches how to pray for people and to do it in a way that isn’t off-putting to those who might not be comfortable with the supernatural.

“Supernatural” in this case refers to hearing directly from God, receiving prophecy, and praying for miraculous healing. Now, this is not something most of the Western church is down with. There are many people and, in fact, entire denominations that run from this idea. We base our theology on the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels, especially John 14:12 (NIV), “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” What did Jesus do? He taught the Kingdom, healed the sick, and delivered people. He told us to do the same.

That being said, I have been hearing from God for two years so I figured it was time to take the next step and learn how to pray for people. Sitting there I didn’t feel like I was ready and I didn’t think I was really getting much out of it. I was even regretting signing up for it. Was I just wasting my time? Was this what God wanted for me?

Turns out the answer was an emphatic yes. This week one of my co-workers was in a minor car accident. She was rear-ended and it hurt her back. Nothing’s broken but she was really sore the next day and in pain. Late morning, God told me to go pray for her. I admit that I didn’t really want to. I’m not a person who seeks attention and I wasn’t sure I was ready to be labeled “that girl who thinks she can heal people.” I tried to ignore it and he told me to be bold. I realized that I made the commitment to surrender my life to the Holy Spirit and to be obedient and if I didn’t go pray for a co-worker’s back then I was really just all talk. That is unacceptable. So I went and asked her if I could pray for her. She thought I meant in general until I told her I meant right then. She let me and I prayed for healing for her back. Nothing flashy, just a quiet simple prayer commanding the pain to go. She thanked me but seemed a little skeptical. I know she’s a Christian but I don’t know how she feels about this kind of stuff. It didn’t matter. I was obedient and that’s what matters. The next day she thanked me sincerely for praying for her and said her back felt much better.

I may be looked at as odd in the office now because of it but I’d rather be weird with God’s works than just plain weird. I didn’t know what God was planning for me when I signed up for that conference but doing it was a step in faith. Like our pastor said last week, “The Promised Land only becomes visible as you walk.” I’ve talked the talk. Now it’s time to walk the walk.

Grrrr…

That pretty much sums up my week. It has not been the best week ever to say the least. My sinus problems started on Memorial Day and really didn’t let up until yesterday. I’ve been moody and irritable for over a week and that doesn’t show signs of stopping. Seriously, it’s like everything I touch this week turns to crap. Even though things have been really slow at work and I’ve had an almost unbearable amount of downtime, this week has been really stressful. It stems from knowing how many returns are on extension and how many have fiscal year ends and how all of them are going to be due at the same time in September and October and I’m sitting around waiting. So much could have gotten done this week if only clients had brought the information in. Take all that, a dash of paranoia, and throw in one heart-stopping, narrowly-avoided direct deposit disaster and you have one sucky week. Ta-da!

Paranoia did you say? Why, yes I did. I have this strange sense that everyone is out to get me, that there are horrors lurking around every office corner, horrors that are going to make this job even more difficult. That’s probably because that actually happened last year. More than once. Surprise! We bought out the CPA across the street and here’s more work for everybody! Surprise! We bought out the CPA next door and here’s more work for everybody! Surprise! We’re switching everything over to a ridiculous new program that has nothing to do with anything for no reason! If you recall, that last one never actually came to fruition because we mounted a rebellion and got it stopped. Or at least put off. I’m paranoid that that particular problem will rear its ugly head again. There’s no telling what could be brewing behind the scenes. I’ve actually been given permission to divvy up the 1099 clients between all the staff accountants so I won’t be responsible for 210 in 30 days like I was this past January. I can already tell you that’s not going to go over well. Turns out I’m the one lurking behind the curtain ready to jump out and say “Surprise! You have to do more work in January!”

After everything I’ve been through in the last several months, I just want a rest. I’ve been making the most of my vacation days and weekends but when I’m at the office I can’t seem to shake a sense of foreboding. I know I put too much pressure on myself and that’s the root of the problem. It’s a fear of failure, of being seen as inferior, not good enough. This job has not been great in the building self-esteem department but that’s another story. What it has taught me is to trust God and obey Him no matter how hard that might be and to stand up for myself and for the truth when the chips are down. I know God led me to this job and no matter how I feel or what they throw at me I’ll keep fighting because in the end, it’s for Him and no one else.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12 (NIV)

Recreation vs. Sleep: A Tax Season Dilemma

Okay, so you may have figured out that it’s tax season and that’s why I haven’t really written anything lately. Tax season means I’m spending long hours at that hellhole my office and my brain hasn’t been able to handle much outside of itemized deductions and balance sheets.

But I’ve made a discovery this week. I haven’t been sleeping well and I’ve been tired all day no matter how much caffeine I consume. I’ve been going to bed early to try to overcome it but to no avail. I still toss and turn and wake up cranky and blurry-eyed. So last night I tried something different. Instead of turning the TV off at 9 and heading to bed, I decided to stay up an extra hour and get caught up on “Agent Carter.” Amazingly, I stayed asleep for longer periods and woke up feeling less like the walking dead.

This experiment has led me to conclude that what I need is more recreation not more sleep. Sleep is good but it’s not the only thing that rests your brain. Doing an activity you enjoy and getting the focus off work can do even more to help. I believe I already knew this on some level but I put it into practice last night and had good results.

It’s my anxiety that brings me to the dilemma part. How am I supposed to add enough recreation time to my already overloaded schedule and still get the amount of sleep my body and mind require? My anxious, mushy brain says, “There aren’t enough hours in the day. There are too many tax returns piled on your desk, too many clients calling, too many demands and not enough Kim to go around.” All these things are true but isn’t it also true that God is the God of all things and that includes time?

It has become increasing clear to me that God has placed me in this job for His purpose and I know that every day He strengthens me for the tasks at hand. And this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been through five tax seasons and half of this one and I know the stress doesn’t do any good. My battle is the lie that I’m not good enough and I still need to prove myself.

This tax season, amid the extra crazy of a dysfunctional office, the task is not the returns or the planning or a sleep regimen. The task is trust. Trust in Him to make the time for it all and trust that now, finally, I am good enough.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

Leave No Woman Behind

I didn’t really have grandparents growing up. I mean they existed but they lived far away and I didn’t establish close relationships with them. My grandfathers died when I was very young but both my grandmothers are still living. Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know my mom’s mother, Gramma. She lives in Florida with her husband and we’ve gone down there several times to visit with them and my mom’s other relatives.

Let me explain something about Gramma. She has not had an easy life. There are a lot of reasons my mom moved a very long way away from her family. She likes to keep at least two states between her and them. God has been doing great things for all of them in the last several years but still. And Gramma has made a lot of progress with the Lord and forgiveness. She has been attending a Lutheran church with some of her friends.

The last time she was at our house was in 2001 for my brother’s high school graduation. A lot of big moments happened between then and now. I graduated high school and college, my brother graduated college and got married. Those are things grandparents usually attend. But Gramma couldn’t come for various reasons, one of which being her nerves couldn’t handle traveling that far. It’s 10 hours by car on the interstate and navigating an airport at her age and her anxiety level would be a nightmare. So I just accepted that Gramma would never visit us, we’d just visit down there.

If you think God isn’t in the miracle business anymore, think again. Back in August, my 84-year-old grandmother and her 89-year-old husband did indeed navigate airport security and fly to my house. It may not seem like much but, y’all, that was a miracle.

And it doesn’t stop there. We got to take Gramma to our church, something we’ve wanted to do for a long time. Now, the church I attend is not everyone’s cup of tea. We believe in miraculous healings and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Some people would call us crazy. During the service they asked the twenty somethings to come down front and then they asked everyone over sixty if they’d come down and pray for us. When we were finished and I turned around to go back to my seat, Gramma had come down and she was praying for a girl. I admit, I never thought I would see that.

We had a great visit and I’m so thankful God made it happen. She got to see my brother for the first time in 13 years and meet his wife. I thought that was the extent of God’s miracle for us but as per usual, He gave more than was asked. My mom talked to Gramma a couple weeks ago and she mentioned that the little Lutheran church she attends just isn’t doing it for her anymore. She wants something more.

Y’all, let me tell you something about the Holy Spirit, He leaves no one behind.

“For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:8 (NIV)

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

Father God,

Thank You for Your provision this year.

Thank You for the frustration and stress.

Thank You for the paychecks.

Thank You for wisdom and discernment.

Thank You for coming change.

Thank You for emotional healing.

Thank You for putting me in the fray.

Thank You for enlightening books.

Thank You for job training, both physical and spiritual.

Thank You for sustaining me and teaching me.

Thank You for what You have done, are doing, and will do.

And most of all, thank You for Your son Jesus Christ and in His mighty name I pray,

Amen

When the Going Gets Tough…

The tough get going, right? But what does that actually mean? Does “get going” mean you suck it up and start handling the problem or does it mean you move on from the thing that has suddenly gotten tough?

I’m at a major crossroads, y’all. I mentioned in my last post that my job has some serious problems. And I explained how God put me in this job for His purpose and how He used me to help with one of the issues. The problem is there are so many more issues. And they’re not getting solved anytime soon. We still have to do more work with no tax season help, management is still making head-scratching decisions, and the two people who tried to get me fired for two years are still after me. (Don’t even get me started on that.)

So I’m trapped between “If your job makes you miserable, you should find another job” and “All jobs suck and if you leave this one, you could end up somewhere worse.” Am I being weak to want to move on or am I legitimately at the point where I need to move on for the sake of my sanity?

And really this goes beyond the job situation. I just turned 28, I’m single, childless, and living with my parents. I want to move to another city, where my church is. But I can’t commute all the way to my current job from there. And the even bigger issue is that this job is taking over my life. Not just during tax season anymore. I feel like it leaves no time for serving God and that’s a problem.

Here’s what God has had to say over the last 12 months:

1. Don’t buy a house. Don’t be tied down to any one place. (Check)
2. Get out of debt. (Check)
3. Learn as much as possible about relationship with God. (Check)
4. He will use me.
5. I won’t be on this job that much longer. (?)

It’s that last one that has me stumped. Is my work for Him at this job done? Am I free to pursue something else? Like I mentioned before, God doesn’t give you the whole picture. That’s why they call it faith. If I’m really serious about abandoning my life to Him, I guess this is a pretty good time to start. So I’ve started looking around for other jobs and I’m trusting Him with the outcome. He didn’t let me down before, why would He now?

Why Not?

As I sit in my office breathing in the scent of Sweet Pea from my Wallflower, exhausted from 7 weeks of workplace hell, I can’t help thinking about how all this happened.

It started in the spring. Our firm bought out a couple of smaller ones and we took on some major new additions. It’s put a strain on everyone. We’re small ourselves and we’re not equipped to handle this amount. Then we were told we’d have to change our entire way of doing things by converting to a new, harder-to-use, very un-user-friendly program. Add in some serious problems at the top level and you’ve got a recipe for rebellion.

One night, as I was stressing about the situation and thinking about how useless the whole thing was, a train of thought started running through my head. There could actually be a solution to this. I’ve always been a leader and I often get put in leadership positions. I’m also pretty good at mediation. Emotions were running high with everyone and there was so much whispering at the office. The things I was thinking about would open communication and help to reconcile the situation. It would also put me at the center of the fray. After I had hashed it all out in my mind, I thought, “I can’t do that.”

Then God said, “Why not?”

And I didn’t have an answer. At least not a good one. He gave me these leadership and people skills. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that He would want me to use them? Hadn’t He already given me many situations like this to practice on? Hadn’t He already revealed that He was using me at this job for His purpose?

So I stepped into the fray and no, it wasn’t easy. I got pummeled from all sides and it left me drained and wondering if I had done the right thing. But then others started to step up and we had the opportunity to make our concerns heard. They decided to the delay the conversion until we could all consider the consequences. That’s a huge relief going into the autumn. Did it fix everything? No. But it fixed the most immediate problem and brought the other issues to light.

Part of being all in for God is hearing His voice and being brave enough to act when you know it’s Him. He doesn’t give us the entire answer up front. He expects us to recognize the opportunity and step out in faith, trusting He will take care of the outcome.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Romans 8:31 (NIV)

Why not, indeed.

Why I’m an Accountant

Not because it’s fun. I’ll just put that right out there. I’ve already ranted at length about how the job can suck. So, why, you might ask, do I continue?

Because God told me to. Yep, I said it. That’s the real, truthful answer. I’m an accountant because God wanted me to be. Now, I had no idea about this until just a few months ago. For the last 27 years, God has been preparing me to do this job at this firm. And I had no freaking clue.

Let’s start with college. I worked hard and got the scholarships and got into the good school. I was a smart kid and I thought I had my pick of majors. The trick was finding out what I wanted to do because I could do anything. I was that awesome. That lasted about six weeks. C is for Chemistry in more ways than one, y’all. I didn’t know what to do next so I just kept going with the gen ed. When it came time to declare a major I decided on accounting because it just didn’t suck as much as everything else and I didn’t seem to suck at it.

So I took the courses and got the degree. I also did an internship for two summers. It was really temp work, but I was getting paid so I wasn’t about to complain. Then there was grad school. It was sooooo important that I go to grad school and get the CPA. I’ve explained this part of the story but I’ll reiterate that I was being told CPA or die. So I went. For two months. I came home and immediately got a job as an accountant (not a temp) at the exact firm I had “interned” with. If that’s not divine planning, I don’t know what is.

I realized pretty quickly that flunking out of grad school was not a failure. Far from it actually. It was a huge learning experience. And while I may have had an inkling that it wasn’t the right path for me, I believe God took me there to show me my path. I was having second thoughts just before I left but it was way too late to turn back. I had to go and see and fail. It wasn’t being disobedient to God. I needed that experience. And God’s timing is always perfect. If I had decided in August not to go and asked for a job at my firm, there wouldn’t have been one. They had just fired someone not long before I called to tell them I was leaving grad school and could I please have my temp job back while I look for a real job. That’s how I know I wasn’t disobeying. I was exactly where He wanted me. Sometimes God wants you to make the mistake.

I’ve been on this job for four years and it hasn’t been easy. There have been a lot of low points but God has kept me here because I’m doing something for Him. And if I might be so bold, I think God trusts me to do His work here. God has been leading me to this place for a lot longer than I knew.

When asked formally why I became an accountant, I’d give some BS answer about wanting to provide an important service to people. Little did I know I was actually doing service for something so much greater.