Retirement vs. Recharging Batteries

It’s now been four months since my old job was terminated, and there have been many things happening in the interim. And some very complicated emotions.

So have I been idle? Oh-no-no-no-no… Things around the house which have been neglected are now fixed, and others are on the way to being fixed.

Am I in better shape, physically​? Unfortunately, no… My knees have restricted me from doing many things, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t ask others to help me get things done. And every one and all of you guys have my great gratitude.

And what about the Big R: Retirement? I don’t think so. At this stage of my life, it’d be like giving up. I still have this energy left in me to, as Max Lucado says, “…to make a big deal out of God”.

I think of the difference I’ve made in the places where I’ve worked, and the spark of Life is still alive and dancing within me.

On the other side of the spectrum, I was recently thinking about someone I know who had a “retirement party”, and used the opportunity to tell many stories about how he had inflicted his point of view on others, instead of listening to their life stories and putting an arm around them and accepting them for who they are.

I was saddened by the loss of opportunity: I heard someone who makes great claims about his faith, but had thrown away several chances to reflect Christ in his life by understanding people on a one-to-one basis. Yep, you go getting full of pride, watch out for what it does to you. So yeah, I lost a bunch of respect for the guy that day.

If I should ever have a ‘retirement party’, may some things be true:

  • It’s going to be some time in the future.
  • May I have made a difference in people’s lives.
  • May others be able to speak of me as a strong, quiet, and steadfast friend.
  • And may I have many more friends than I ever realized.

Let’s get back to the present: Here I am, nearing “retirement age”, and yet I still have an energy and drive to give to those things which God would wish me to do: enriching the lives of those with whom I work, making a difference every day with my work, being a friend and a deep resource for my employer, and being able to come home every day, knowing that I have made a difference in God’s world.

Meanwhile, the job hunt goes on: I have a couple opportunities: one, to East of me, and another to the North. The potential of both of these is literally exciting. Even at my age…

I know that God’s hand still rests upon me, and maybe he thinks I’m still useful.

I’m still energized. I’m still able. But most of all, I’m still God’s servant.

Let’s see where this goes.

I’m in for the ride, Lord; let’s go.

What I’m Giving up for Lent

I’m giving up ‘wrestling the 800-pound gorilla’.

Now before you start laughing at me, that “gorilla” represents my ties to my old job, my worries about getting another one, and my worries about letting-go of full-time employment and entering the tenous world of contracting work.

I feel that God is pulling on me to let go of the security afforded by a salaried job, and to REALLY start trusting him for just enough work to keep the bills paid. I am totally on-board with God that this is another time for major change in my life; just like it was to lose my job seventeen years ago. It was tough then, but maybe I’ve learned something in the intervening years.

Like trust.

When I can open my hands long enough to let go of this ‘gorilla’, I can feel a sense of liberation.

The thing is, I just have to let go long enough. But can I do it for forty days?

Socked-in Days

Our temperatures here on the side of the mountain have finally moderated to something like a year’s normal for this date. Our local weather expert notes that we’ve had roughly FIVE INCHES more precipitation / rain so for this year than normal, also.

There’s still stubborn, isolated patches of snow here and there, but I can now be outside without having to wear my heaviest coat.

Back in November, I posted a pic of our favourite local weather predictor, a wooly-bear caterpillar; his amber stripe covering most of his body. And he was right: we’ve had an unusually cold, snowy, Winter.

It’s not over yet: we have snow in the forecast for the middle of next week.

And today, we’ve been socked-in with clouds so thick you could barely see the trees across the back meadow. Rain, coming hard at times, only added to the depressing bleakness. Its cold distraction wasn’t welcome early this morning when I took a big plate of rolled-up sandwiches down to the church for a funeral in the afternoon.

The damp this afternoon drove me to our little sunroom this evening so I could sit and read, practice the presense of God, and try to listen just a bit. And look what was waiting for me…

Again in the Psalms, from Psalm 37:7…

Be still in the presence on the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.

So I spent some time in sharing what was in my heart: worries about being out of work so close to retirement, health for my wife, (whom you may recall has Congestive Heart Failure), wondering if I have reached the end of my race, or if there is other service for me to gladly perform.

I laid all these concerns at the base of his throne, but I am the first to admit that my hands won’t easily let go of them.

In trying to do so, I turned to other reading, trying to ignore the inability to see anything outside.

But patience with the weather paid off! For bare moments, we got a break, and the River of Clouds was there-if just for a moment-shouting, “God IS!!”

I grabbed the closest thing that would make a picture, for this lasted only moments. (You should be able to click to enlarge.)

And it was a tremendous lift to my spirits.

May it be so for yours.

Looking forward in confidence

The job hunt has begun.

Fortunately my company has excellent “outplacement resources”, and today I ‘attended’ a webinar that does the basic introduction, description of services, and so on.

There are many things opening up here with the closing of that other door of full-time employment, but I want to make sure that I seek God through all the haste and noise of the changes taking place. Many possible paths await, but I need to have the assurance that I am choosing the correct one.

My wonderful wife assures me that I will know; and she’s okay with me working freelance for a while. I see that as an opportunity to help many people; as a way to serve others and continue to use the gifts that God gave me. There is a balance between the income and the service to others.

I always felt that my job doesn’t define me, but I define my job. I choose to make it both a living and a service by how I approach it.

Service to others is the difference between sitting on your ass and waiting for stuff to come to you; and going out to find how you can be of service to others. I’ve frequently said here in this blog that we need to let others help. It is by offering this help to others that perhaps I can relieve someone of a burden that they would find tedious, but for me it’s a task to which I can apply the gifts God gave me.

This then, is the blending of talents for which God made us. We are all better when we work together.

On to prayerful seeking.

“Your position has been eliminated.”

With that flat statement from our HR person, I’m out of a job.

I could choose to look at this from the negative side, but embracing that kind of mindset gets me nowhere. Instead, I know from being in this same spot 17 years ago that God has something else in mind.

But, just like before, it can be a hard fight sometimes to stay positive. I look at the year and a half I had until I could retire and get Medicare; but there is an opportunity here to continue to serve and do good work.

Meanwhile, I look around me and realize that I’m surrounded by love. I have a unique and in-demand skill-set. And thanks to the work of my former boss, I was moved to a classification whereby my severance is a year’s worth, instead of just a few months. I also have passed my hiring anniversary, so the cash-out from my accrued vacation is for the entire year’s worth.

I was sitting with our pastor and praying about things, and he used the line from Psalm 46:10:

“Be still, and know that I am God…”

So okay, Lord. Here I am. Send me.

Waiting for the Stars to Come Out – Some Introspection for the New Year

It’s been a day of snow, sun, snow, thunderstorms with hail; and finally a quiet sunset. We have about four inches or more of snow with granular hail on top of it, as I write. This is probably the latest after sunset that I can make the cellphone imager work. Even so, it took a little doctoring to make it look something close to right:

This New Year brings with it a sense of things done, things to do, and a spark of optimism.

Cause for celebration:

Yesterday – just yesterday, my wife was able to get back into her spa. This is A Really Big Deal, because she did it without fear, with her ‘Swedish iron’ overcoming the mental obstacles, which in turn, overcame the physicial obstacles. And she enjoyed being back in her spa again. This is a step forward, a big step forward.

And here is something I haven’t seen in a while – the sunroom’s Westward windows, fogged by the spa being open:

I just have to take a moment to hold my hand over my heart and to thank God… To see this happening, is just like throwing a window open in my soul.

And even though there are upcoming challenges, each comes with its little spark of a positive:

The landscape lights are still out of commission, but the gentle wash of warm light from the living room onto the snowy deck is a reminder to me that I am loved, no matter what.

There are many, many molehills to be dealt with, come spring. And my left shoulder’s bursitis has been troubling me for a month or more. I will mount the back blade on the tractor and drag the front and back meadows, making them smoother and my mowing tasks easier again this year. But for now, the snow covers all of this, reminding me not to worry about it for now.

There are other, bigger tasks (septic system and so on), which could worry me; but instead I choose to put my hand in God’s, and trust him to sort it all out, in time.

First Snow on the Ridge

It’s been cloudy and cold on the side of the mountain lately; and thanks to the time change, it’s dark when I get home. The Ridge to our North has been hidden behind cloud and invisible in the darkness, but this morning, it was as if God hooked his thumb under the edge of that blanket of cloud – and lifted it just for a few moments, saying, “Take a look at this, child.”

There was the peak, with a mantle of snow. First time this season. The speed at which the clouds were moving told me that I had mere seconds to grab this shot. I grabbed the closest thing that could make a picture and …

Here we are.

Our local peaks are visible between the two big trees, and to the right of the fuller large tree.

Ain’t you amazing, Lord? What else do you have in store today? May my eyes be open to see.