Fifty plus life-Are you prepared?

For many years, I worked as a nurse in the field of Home Health. One of the mandated requirements for the agency was an up-to-date Emergency Preparedness Plan, for the patients who were confined to their homes. All personnel-clinical and nonclinical-had the responsibility of knowing the action plan if a disaster occurred. At the time of admission, patients were educated and informed of the necessary requirements of planned evacuation in order to receive healthcare services. Many individuals balked at the thought of leaving their homes. Although resistance was high, the patient eventually assisted the nursing staff in developing a personalized action plan for safety.
Developing a plan for unforeseen incidents such as natural disasters, and death can be very overwhelming. Many emotions present when an individual is forced to pre-plan for unpleasant circumstances. Some will choose to ignore the pending situation in disbelief or they will convince themselves that preparation can be easily accomplished if something happens. The recent disaster from Hurricane Harvey has given many of us a harsh reality check. The choice to be prepared or to face negative outcomes is the reality of unexpected life events. It is unrealistic to think that we can pre-plan every aspect of our lives; however, we should pay attention to the warnings of impending danger.
Being ready also applies to our spiritual status with God. Matthew 24:44 (NIV) tells us, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Every new day provides us with additional grace and mercies. Following God’s spiritual preparedness plan affords us the opportunity to have eternal life if we choose. I have a certain fondness for flowers. Many times, I will contemplate on their phenomenal beauty, and thank God, as I wonder what is in store for my future life in heaven. I encourage each of us to plan for the greatest life event-the Second Coming of Christ. Unlike life’s disasters or unforeseen events, we do not have to develop our spiritual preparedness plan. God has provided a fail proof spiritual preparedness plan for all who believe and obey. It is up to us to choose to accept his action plan for our lives.

Defeating Disappointment

I can remember when a Quality position that I really loved and was highly skilled in came to an abrupt end this year. Becoming successful involved working 12-hour days and constant planning to stay ahead; however, I didn’t mind, my clients were happy and I felt great. All was well until one of my clients requested that I check the statistics of relevant data that met Medicare criteria but was not reflected in the “Met” percentages. My research revealed the worst-case scenario. Although a team of three persons including myself was devoted to the process of reviewing the data, we did not have an Inter-Rater Reliability system in place to monitor the submission of the data. The team member assigned for the submission of said data had failed to comply with the mandated requirements.
As I reviewed and noted the 19th non-submission, I immediately notified the Manager and Client Liaison of the findings. The administrative decision of nondisclosure to the client prompted my decision of immediate resignation. I experienced many emotions during the two weeks that followed the end of my career. My tenure with the company that I envisioned leaving with the status of a retiree would never happen. I went through the stages of grief including shock and disbelief. The level of disappointment that I experienced was immeasurable. How could this have possibly happened after all of my hard work? As I share this experience, I can emphatically say that my decision to stand by my Christian ethical and moral values was one that I have never regretted.
In Jeremiah 29:11, God tells us, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” At the time of my disappointment, I did not recognize that God had other plans for my life or the compromise that I made for my celebrated success. During my employment, my health was gradually failing Fifty and Fighting the Fast Food Epidemic , due to inappropriate food choices, a work-life balance that was nonexistent, and a diminishing relationship with God. There are no easy methods to overcoming disappointment. Often we are encouraged to move on as if nothing happened. Express your disappointment: “I am disappointed and sad that things did not work out as I anticipated.” However, acknowledging to God that although you do not understand his will for your life, you are still willing to put your life in His hands, and that simple act of faith initiates the healing process.
Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found…Jeremiah 29: 12-14

 

Sacrificial Giving-How Can I Help?

The question-HOW CAN I HELP?-translates into WHAT CAN I DO TO ALLEVIATE YOUR SUFFERING OR YOUR BURDEN?
Maya Angelou stated, “You can’t go through life wearing catcher’s mitts on both hands, you have to throwback also.”
But, am I really prepared for the endless variety of answers that I will receive if I ask others, “How can I help?”

What qualities are required to serve others?
1. Sacrificial giving encompasses one’s time, talent, and financial resources.
2. Sacrificial giving requires a definitive mindset of selflessness, humility, and the ability to set boundaries.
3. Sacrificial giving stipulates that the receiver has no obligation to the giver.
4. Sacrificial giving requires a Vow of Silence. Whatever you are doing is between you, the person, and God.

So what are the benefits of sacrificial giving? Our character becomes more like Christ.
1. Sacrificial giving melts away a cold, stony heart, and in its place, genuine love grows.
2. Sacrificial giving destroys selfishness and enables the fruit of the spirit to flourish.
3. Sacrificial giving provides you with incomparable joy, that you can only receive when you care about the welfare of others.

Finally, Sacrificial Giving brings restoration through the healing of our depression, fears, and anxieties, because it increases our faith in God and in humanity.

If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion-how can God’s love be in that person? 1 John 3:17

WORK↔LIFE Balance

Wikipedia’s definition of this phenomenon:

Worklife balance is a concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation).

I recently interviewed for a job in which one of the benefits of the position is that it offered a work-life balance. I listened carefully, and took mental notes of questions that I would ask later. “Do you have any questions?” I replied in the affirmative and proceeded to present a couple of scenarios to clarify my understanding of the position. I inquired as to what my prospective caseload would be; and, how would my work hours be impacted if I received a referral 5 minutes prior to the end of my day. At this point, the interviewer began to filibuster. I received vague answers that did not add up with my prior knowledge of case management. However, when I was told that I was the top candidate for the position, I chose to ignore the ambiguous answers, and expressed an interest in moving forward.

Following the interview, my mind remained in turmoil. I decided that it was time to ask for Divine intervention, and I proceeded to pray. I asked God to protect me from accepting a job that would end with a negative outcome. This is when the circumstances begin to change. When I checked my email the next morning, the administrative assistant for the company had inadvertently sent me an interview confirmation for another candidate. Later that evening, I received another company email that apologized for the inconvenience; however, my application could not be found in their system, and that I could not be scheduled for the third and final interview. The deadline to complete the new application was dated the day before. I reread the email in disbelief. I began to question the gross errors: How could this possibly happen? What type of company makes mistakes like this?

Within minutes, I remembered my prayer for protection. It was not how I expected God to answer my prayer. Nevertheless, I knew that it was God’s answer and will for my life. I am still searching for employment. However, my priority in this concept of work-life balance is spiritual growth. In faith, I have decided to place my life in God’s hands. With His guidance, I am confident that my work-life balance will be perfect.

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 2Thessalonians 3:3

Yes, Count your Pennies

 

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Matthew 6:19 NLT

The Mid–Stage of my life arrived much faster than I anticipated. Much to my surprise, when I received my pre-retirement Social Security benefit statement, it informed me that I have worked since the age of 13. However, the math and the retirement funds that I would receive did not coincide. In three years, I would be entitled to a gratuitous 75% percent of my calculated monthly payoff. However, if I would only wait until the ripe age of 66, then I would receive 100% of my benefits. I continued to look in disbelief; based on my calculations, I should have an increase of at least 50%. My plan to relax on a Caribbean beach for at least six months a year was not going to happen.

So, before you think, “oh well, she didn’t manage her finances correctly.” I want to clarify that I did not splurge. In fact, I paid for necessities-food, housing, car note, auto insurance, clothing, etc. As a single woman until 51, I had budgeted quite well-which enabled me to take a few enjoyable vacations, and give 15% charitable contributions in the form of tithe and offerings. My financial plan began to unravel three years ago, when my health took a substantial turn. As a healthcare professional providing care to patients, I worked in a fast-paced environment that required standing, and running around most of the 8-12 hour shift. I begin to notice the joint pain in both of my knees, which required frequent sit breaks. I remained in denial regarding my condition and did not seek medical intervention. It was only during a trip to Upstate NY where my left knee hyperextended and I returned home with an immobilizer and crutches. Subsequent follow-ups with my PCP and three orthopedic surgeons revealed a diagnosis of Bilateral End-Stage Osteoarthritis with recommendations for knee replacements.

I have recently performed a list of my assets according to biblical standards, and I am in good standing. God has supplied all of my needs, and I am doing fairly well with the desirable wants. Now I have to restructure and refocus my mindset. I do not need to “shop” for unneeded items. In fact, I am in the process of collecting clothing and other items (for donation) that I will never use again. Did it require a decline in my health status for me to start counting my blessings and stop spending the resources that God has provided for me? I will continue to ponder on that question. Who knows with the money I am no longer spending, my dream for time on that Caribbean beach may be within reach.

 

Desperate for Deliverance-For Believers Only

Is it possible to live without anxiety, worry or fear?

Anxiety

  1. According to the Texas UT Counseling and Mental Health Center, “Anxiety is hardwired into our brains…It is a normal response to uncertainty, trouble, or feeling unprepared.”
  2. According to the Bible, 1 Peter 5:7 NLT states, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Worry

  1. “There is probably is a biological component to chronic worry, but there is also an early environment component,” agrees Sandy Taub, PsyD, a psychoanalyst in private practice in Wilmington, Delaware.
  2. In Matthew 11:28 NLT, Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Fear

  1. Simple definition: To be afraid of actual/perceived danger or threat; extended to pursuing dreams, progressing in one’s career, or facing new or unfamiliar situations.
  2. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has torment, and he that fears has not been made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 Darby

As I researched my question of living without anxiety, worry or fear; I was confronted with an overabundance of rationalizations, and reasons why a peaceful state of mind is not possible. The explanation that stood out blatantly was the fact that I was raised by an overprotective mother. While that may sound reasonable to many, I doubt that my upbringing has caused many sleepless nights due to a worrisome state of mind. My condition only worsened as I matured to middle age. Any change in my normal daily pattern caused an increased level of discomfort as I attempted to deescalate my level of stress-due to anxiety and worry.

When my contractual period of employment ended, I can remember sitting on the side of my bed, balancing my bank account. As much as I claimed to believe in God, I breathed out a short prayer telling God that I didn’t know what to do, now that I was not working. In less than a minute, I received a Daily Devotional notification on my cell phone that stated, “Make your day better. Read Matthew 6: 25-34.” Since this is one of my favorite Bible texts, I was already aware of what Christ instructed us not to do-Do Not Worry. I could not control the tears that flowed as I read the promises for my life. All I had to do was to believe.

During my season of unemployment, I have come to realize the reason that I had lived with insomnia for years was due to relationship issues. I did not believe that God would really stand by his Word; so, I failed to pray and study diligently. The result of self-reliance was brokenness and its byproducts-anxiety, worry, and fear. When I relied on my achievements, the faith and trust that God deserved were displaced. In spite of my disbelief, God reminded me of the importance of strengthening my relationship with Him. My prayer life is improving; I am sleeping much better; and I can achieve a peaceful state of mind-free of all anxiety, worry, and fear. Only believe.

Do Not Worry- Matthew 6: 25-34 NIV

25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.