Sunday, February 22, 2015

Is Work Meaningless?

At church right now we're going through a series on the Meaning of Life. I seriously thought it was crazy when the idea came up... because we're based in Ecclesiastes! If you've never read Ecclesiastes, give it a try. It's a little cray cray.

I love it, though. We're going through all these experiments that Solomon, known as the Teacher, does to see where meaning in life happens.

Today, I had the privilege of talking about WORK. Solomon talks about work a lot in Chapter 2.

Basically, he's all depressed because when he dies, he DIES. His stuff goes to someone else who will probably squander it all.

But then he figures out something crazy... there's meaning in life when we recognize that work is a gift from God... because God has a PURPOSE for that work.

I wrote this message and thought it was a neat and tidy little package. And then I got a call at work on Friday (I interpret telephone calls into English and Sign Language) that messed me up for the rest of the day. That was real life. The call emptied me. The only purpose I saw at work was that I HAD to be there to pay the medical bills for my recent surgery.

Suck-fest.

On my way home, God made me re-examine what I was talking about in church. He's like, "Emily... if you can't process this today, you don't get to talk about it on Sunday." Crap.

So let me tell you about purpose, and the purpose that God has created for me, specifically, in the way in which I earn money.

1) I provide access for individuals to make telephone calls. This is amazing. That the technology is there for the integration of video and voice and that I work REALLY hard to make sure that every call sounds as natural as it can be. The rewards of this are being asked, "Are your parents Deaf?" or told, "I wish you were my interpreter EVERY time!" or "You sounded JUST like my sister."

This is good. It really is. But that is the purpose that God has for EVERY interpreter in my situation.

2) I used to work for the State. I quit my job there without being assured of another job somewhere else (only do this when you are 100% sure this is a leading from God!). Purpose? Trusting God.

I got a job as an interpreter. Purpose? Earning money. Building seniority. Understanding the job. Working somewhere with centers nationwide.

I was able to move anywhere. Purpose? I could move to Las Vegas, still earn money to pay for rent, and be available to serve God in a way in which He's designed me. Leading. Preaching. Administrationing. Creating databases and sending cards and speaking and making friends and talking about Jesus and joining Toastmasters and going to coffee shops and... Everything I'm doing here in Vegas is because of the gift that God has given me.


So even on days when I don't care for my job, or when I have rough calls or callers, or I get flipped off, or have to drop the F-bomb 27 times in one conversation, I know God still has a purpose. And I'm so very grateful for that.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Help Me!

At the end of January, I surgery on my knee. Nothing major, but it put me out of commission for a bit. My amazing mom came down to help me get back on my feet (literally), drive me around, cook and clean for me, and just be another person here so I wasn't healing at home alone.

It amazed me, however, how much GUILT I felt when I asked for help! I felt bad asking her to get me a glass of water, bring me dinner, cook me breakfast, wash the dishes. I KNEW that if I tried hard enough, I could do all of those things on my own! Except... I couldn't.

And when you can't do something you normally do, it's humbling. To have to depend on another person for some very basic things. It's harder than it seems like it will be.

I can't tell you how many times I would make a request like, "I'm sorry, but... I ran out of water... could you get me some more?... I... I'm sorry. Thank you..."

Can anyone relate?

I'm the careGIVER, not the care RECEIVER.

I think it's important, though, to be a care receiver sometimes. For me, it made me so much more grateful for my health. I'm still recovering, and I'm frustrated by how I get tired quickly, and that my knee isn't feeling PERFECT yet (even though the doctor TOLD me it would take a month or so). 

I'm grateful for the ability to walk. I'm grateful for a family that cares about me and goes out of the way to make sure I'm taken care of.  I'm grateful for a team of leaders at church who won't LET me overdo it, even when I want to--because I am thinking of what I want to see happen now, but they are thinking of what happens long term. It makes me feel loved. And even being told, "No, don't do that," makes me feel appreciated because I know that people care.

I'm not saying that everyone should go get knee surgery. But maybe everyone should be a care receiver every now and then.


And while my Christmas Tree wasn't attacking me, this is what it felt like when I asked for help (see ESPECIALLY at 1:20):

Saturday, February 07, 2015

21 Days

21 days. That's three weeks.

21 days. It's not much time, really, in the grand scheme of things. Or it's an eternity. Either way...

Several of us in Sought Church are doing a 21 day fast beginning tomorrow, February 8th. Some of us are fasting food, some are fasting TV, or something else specific in our lives. Now... I want to be really honest with you about this. When I first was presented with the idea, I wasn't happy.

"Crap," I thought. "I'm a leader. That means I have to do this, too." Because leaders are willing to be
uncomfortable to help other people grow, and let me tell you, fasting is uncomfortable.

Think about it... people won't be EATING. They won't be doing all these other things that we find pleasure in, or stress relief, or sustenance!

Instead, we'll all be looking to God. Seeking Him. Wanting more of Him. Trying our best to listen to what He's saying for our lives, for our church, for our community.

It's hard. It's kinda sucky at times.

But you know what? During that time when FB is down, or there's a deep craving for chocolate (or just food in general!), guess where we get to focus our time and energy?

On Jesus.

And that? That's the greatest pleasure of all.

Want to join our fast? Want to ask questions, or start a conversation about this? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, January 23, 2015

#RedLipNation

Some women that I hang out with online have started a new trend.  Our roles are typically seen as conservative, so our trend is... refreshing. Scary. And downright gorgeous.

These women--pastors, leaders, mothers, executives, peace-keepers, movers and shakers--keep stepping up, one by one, to reach out of their comfort zone.

Many of us have uttered the words, "I've never done this before..." Often, those words are preceded by one amazing feat--red lipstick.

I know.  You're thinking, "Emily. This post is about MAKEUP?"

Seriously, keep reading.

I wear chapstick every day. That's mostly the extent of my lip color (i.e. there IS no color).  When this discussion about wearing red lipstick started, my first thought was, "Um, I could NEVER get away with that."  But I kept seeing pictures of the most beautiful, brave women. Red lips out there, speaking words with confidence and grace.

Finally, I thought I needed to try it. I wanted to be brave. Because wearing my chapstick is NOT brave.  Wearing my chapstick hides me, helps me blend in. Having red lips makes me stand out--or at least feel like I'm standing out. And while I want to stand out in many ways (I love the spotlight!), my lips were never a way I wanted to do that!

Monday night, I went to Ulta.  (That's a makeup store. I live 5 minutes from it, it's HUGE, and I'd seriously never heard of it before.) I got some help from a girl there and went home with 3 lip colors and a lip liner. The next morning, I wore red lipstick to a minister's breakfast.

I.
Was.
Terrified.

But no one kicked me out. No one took away my credentials. No one called me a hooker.

I sat there, singing and praying, and listening to what God was doing, and I felt grateful. Strangely enough, in that bravery, fighting back the fear of what others would think of me, I felt like I was more the woman that God had created me to be. Bold. Fearless (or at least able to conquer fear). Brave.

Joshua 1:9 tells us to "be strong and courageous." No, Joshua was not talking about wearing red lipstick. But... I felt that way when I put it on. I know that red lipstick doesn't cause the Lord to go with me wherever I go, but my insecurity meant that I had to put 100% of my worth, value, everything on HIM, not on me. And that's a LOT scarier than smearing a little NYX Butter Lipstick in Licorice on my mouth.

If you don't normally wear red lipstick (and you're a woman!), go find a shade that fits you and try it. If you do, or you're a guy, try something else that brings you out of your comfort zone. You'll quickly realize just how much you need to depend on Jesus to breathe calmly when you wonder if other people are judging you, concerned about you, or... don't even care about the change.  Join the #redlipnation!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lessons from the Littles

As a church startup, our team spends the early part of our Sunday mornings loading and unloading, then setting up, everything we need to make church happen for the day.  We load in things for kids, a coffee table, concierge, all our sound equipment, TVs, etc. 

Once that's all done, we meet together to talk about what's going to happen during our gathering, and then to pray for our time together and for the people who are going to join our conversation that day.

Our team ranges in age from almost 10 months old to--well, not 10 months!  This morning, while we're praying, I saw something that really made me pause.

The 10 month old, we'll call him L, has an older sister, four and a half (don't forget the half!) year old C.  She adores her little brother.  He, in turn, loves her.  Today, all of the adults were standing in a circle, with C sitting on a step inside the circle, and little brother in front of her on the floor.  Halfway through prayer, C decided to get up and walk to her mom, wanting the closeness of family--or maybe just getting wiggles out.

L just sat there for a second.

Then his little face got determined and he spun around, crawling quickly to the feet of his big sister... who looked down adoringly.

I was struck by this.  L knew that life without his sister, even just for that moment, wasn't good.  This little boy wanted the comfort of someone who is family, who cherishes him, and who he knows so well.  It wouldn't have done for me to pick him up--he probably would have started crying, even though I love him to pieces.  He wanted the one who he KNEW was his.

It made me think of my relationship with Jesus.  When I find myself in a situation where I can't see Jesus, do I freak out?  Do I cry because I feel alone or hurt?  Or do I spin around, catch His eye, and RUN toward Him?

I know Jesus is mine and I am His.  I know that in Him alone is my safety.  I know that without Him, I am lost. I pray that the next time I find myself in the same situation that L did, a little lost and without my Jesus, I am willing to SEEK out Jesus and sprint toward His side--because I know He is always seeking me.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Don't be a Fraidy Cat


My mom came to Vegas to visit me for 2 weeks over the holidays this year.  It was LOVELY.  We had such fun--my mom and I, that is... not my cats.  (I know... there she goes, talking about cats.  Just call me Taylor Swift.)

Cosmo and Lockwood... well, they're used to having ME around.  Just me.  When other people come over, they're really good at running away and hiding.  When my mom came to stay with us, the boys were off their game.  They hid a lot, and only came out when they wanted food, water, or belly rubs.  They eventually got used to That Lady staying with us and became more comfortable interacting with her.  She even got Cosmo head-butts on her last day.

But Lockwood... Lockwood is a beast.  He's almost 25 pounds of long, black fur.  He's huge.  And you'd expect a huge beast like this to know that he could eat most things that get in his way.  That's not his reality, though.  His M.O. is to hide.  From everything.  We'd come in the door and he'd run back to my bedroom, and scramble under the end of my bed, where the blankets draped over perfectly to form a perfect cat-cave.

One day, as he was trembling in self-induced fear, I looked into the darkness, seeing bright eyes, shining huge and golden, reflecting the bathroom light, hidden safely under the blankets.  I rolled my eyes in exasperation.  "Dumb cat.  Get OUT.  You're not SAFE under there.  You're MISSING things; you're missing LIFE!  If you came out, That Lady would give you belly rubs and catnip, your favorite things in the world!"

Fat Cat
Then I stopped...  I've certainly jumped off cliffs before in my life--heck, I live in Las Vegas; that move alone was a jump--but am I missing out on God at times because I am hiding, trembling beneath the blankets?

I know there are things I've missed out on, the human equivalent of belly rubs and catnip, because I've been willing to sit at home, despite that feeling in the pit of my stomach telling me to DO X, Y, or Z.  You know what I'm talking about.  I have a feeling you've felt that feeling, too.  Where you're home or somewhere you think is safe, but your stomach starts to get tight and you feel nauseated... knowing that there's something that's a little scary out there, but you'll probably end up a better person (or at least have a lot of fun!) if you do it.

Here's my encouragement for you (in other words, my kick in the pants for myself): Next time you feel that punch in your gut that you should be doing something, I want you to put yourself in my Fat Cat's body, huddled under the bed and blankets, afraid to come out because what is outside just might be worse than the wonders that could be explored and the adventures that could be had, then make the decision to live, to choose the adventure.  Don't be a fraidy cat!

Monday, January 05, 2015

Go check out my guest blog!

I had the awesome opportunity to blog again with some of my favorite people, The Preacher Girls, last week.  You should check out my blog and then watch theirs regularly!!