Threat to society
The best of Hope & Humor: 2010
Here are twenty of my most hopeful posts for the past year. I hope you find them encouraging as you face the new year.
Don't look back
We get the name January from the Roman god Janus who, much to his parent's horror, was born with two faces: one facing forward, one looking back. And so, January is a time to look forward to the new year and back at the past.
TIME magazine has looked back and declared the past ten years "The Decade From Hell." They have a pointactually several points: the 9/11 attacks, the stock market crash, double-digit unemployment, home foreclosures, continuing death toll in wars and terrorist bombings, etc. etc. (My personal life has been a bit hellish as you can read in Squeezing Good Out of Bad.) So, I'd agree with TIME's assessment.
But, I also agree with the Bible's admonition: "Do not dwell on the past" (Isaiah 43:18) and "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead" (Philippians 3:13b).
Remorse and regrets are obvious reasons not to dwell on the past. And, admitedly, there is much for which to grieve. But there are other subtle dangers of looking back:
We live in such a changing world that if we do things in this new decade the way we did them in 2000or even 2009we'll be left in the dust. (If you're an author or publisher, you know that change is happening at warp speed!)
Our personal lives and our relationships can stagnate if we rely on the past. If I'm not growing, I'm dying. And relationships need active care and nurture to grow and mature.
Unless we're Janus, we are going to run into serious troubleand injuriesif we're walking backward into the future. (Wow! I didn't see that coming!)
So, I agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson's advice:
Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays.
Don't look back! Keep looking to the future with hope and humor!
© 2010 James N. Watkins
Top ten reasons 2010-2019 will be a better decade
I have in my right hand, direct from my home office in Corn Borer, Indiana, today's category:
10. Medical research reveals dark chocolate is good for your heart
9. Bernie Madoff and O.J. Simpson are behind bars
8. Rap music sales have dropped nearly 25 percent since 2005
7. The Mayans had it wrong about 2012
6. Laptop computer prices are decreasing, features increasing
5. JamesWatkins.com now contains 55 percent more hope and humorand no trans fats!
4. Unemployment is decreasing, home sales increasing
3. Twenty-five years of New Age pop psychology ends September 2011
2. Dr. House is seeing a therapist
1. We're one decade closer to Christ's return
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be calledv
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this (Isaiah 9:6-7).
© 2010 James N. Watkins
'In this world you will have trouble'
January 8, 2010
One Sunday I made the mistake of teaching on John 16:33:
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Immediately after the closing prayer, one family went out into the sub-zero weather to find that they had left the van's lights on and their battery was dead. Another family discovered their four-year-old had gotten into their van, turned it on and backed over a parking bumper. The worship leader went home to find her husband gone with a note telling her he wanted a divorce. That night the church's hot-water heating pipes froze up and the parsonage's furnace broke down. A parishoner offered to thaw out the church's pipes with a blow torch and caught the building's subflooring on fire. Then things got worse!
The next Sunday, I promised never to speak on that passage again.
"Trouble" seems to be life's default setting: flat tires, kidney stones, IRS audits
. . . the list goes on and on. So, I'm assuming you and I will be facing some trouble this week. But Christ offers us "peace" and "overcoming" victory this week as well. That's why Paul can write:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4:7-9).
So, I hope you're having a "but not" week! We will have trouble, but not defeat!
©2009 James N. Watkins
Are you listening to Goliath or God?
David had a choice in 1 Samuel 17. He could believe the promises of Goliath or God.
Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. "Am I a dog," he roared at David, "that you come at me with a stick?" And he cursed David by the names of his gods. "Come over here, and I'll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!" Goliath yelled.
David replied to the Philistine, "You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven's Armiesthe God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD's battle, and he will give you to us!"
As you know, it was Goliath who became buzzard meat.
We have a choice whose promises we will believe: our enemy or our God:
"You're a loser, a worthless failure" or "You're a child of God."
"You can't do it" or "I will give you strength."
"You're out of work and you're going to starve" or "I will provide for you."
"You have six months to live" or "In Me, you have eternal life."
"Your prodigal children are lost" or "I will guide them home."
"No one loves you" or "I love you unconditionally."
"You're alone" or "I am with you."
We have a choice whose promises we will believe: the loser or the winner.
© 2009 James N. Watkins
Coincidences or 'God-incidences'?
"The first girl you meet when you return to Marion College will become your wife."
No, this wasn't the prediction of a fortune teller or a 900-number "psychic friend." My pastor's wife was trying to console me after a break-up of an engagement and the feeling that I'd never, ever find true love.
"I just feel that's what the Lord is telling me," she said confidently. I was skeptical, but I did go back to school with a sense of fear that the "Bride of Frankenstein" would be waiting for me.
To quickly make my point, the first girl I met that year at college was Lois Farradefinitely no Bride of Frankenstein. Two and a half years later she changed her last name to "Watkins." A coincidence, perhaps. I would rather think of it as one of my friends calls it: "A God-incidence."
Throughout life God is orchestrating His will for our lives with "as it turned out" and "just then" incidences. Lois just "happened to be" the first person I met on campus. When our car broke down several miles from home, a neighbor "just happened" to have had to work late and "just happened" to notice us beside the road. When Lois and a friend from out of town missed an appointment with each other at the hospital where both needed to call on parishioners, Lois decided to pick up some supplies at a Christian bookstore several miles from the hospital. "As it turned out" her friend "just happened" to be at the very same store!
Throughout my life, the Lord has used God-incidences to have me meet the right people for marriage, employment, writing assignments, and other ministry opportunities.
We can make our plans,
but the LORD determines our steps (Proverb 16:9).
The LORD directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives. (Psalm 37:23)
Soaring, running, walking . . . and standing
Everyone loves the prophet Isaiah's encouraging promise:
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:29-31).
Everyone wants to soar. Everyone wants to run. But notice that Isaiah includes the more pedestrian promise of strength for walking. And the apostle Paul brings us to a complete standstill:
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm [and] stand your ground (Ephesians 6:10-11, 14 NLT).
During the ups and downs, highs and lows of life, God is there with strength for soaring and running . . . and for walking and standing our ground. (And, I believe, standing requires much more spiritual and emotional strength than soaring!)
I trust that wherever you find yourself today, you sense strength for the taskeven if it's simply standing.
© 2010 James N. Watkins
When plans are dashed
A show of hands, please? How many of you have ever claimed this "promise" verse?
Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3)
It's a promise that if we're "totally committed" to God, our plans will succeed, right?! Well, not if you look at the Hebrew
word translated by the New International Version as "succeed."
Kuwn can be translated "to be firm, be stable, be established; be enduring; to be directed aright, be fixed aright, be steadfast (moral sense); to prepare, be ready."
Successparticularly in the worldly sense of fame and fortuneis not implied. You can be firm, stable, morally steadfast and still not "succeed." Last year was disastrous for me as far as worldly success: three books going out of print, cancer, losing a big contract because of "radiation retardation," huge medical bills and all five lottery tickets I received as a Christmas gag gift being losers. Sigh.
But I think my "purpose" (to communicate the gospel of Christ in as effective and creative manner as possible with as many as possible) remained "firm, stable and morally steadfast."
So, if you're not having a "successful" week, you're in good company. Stay firm, stable, established and most of allendure!
(This post originally appeared January 12, 2009.)
© 2009 James N. Watkins
When plans are delayed
Many of my friends claim the following verse as one of their favorite biblical promises:
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11).
What many don't realize is that this promise was pronounced before Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians and its residents taken away into exile for 70 years!
Jeremiah laments Jerusalem's destruction
God says in the preceding verse, "You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again."
In our instant "New York minute" microwave world, waiting 70 years for God to answer prayer seems like an eternity. But God promises in verses 12-13: "In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me."
During those 70 years, God promises to be with His people. And that is the real promise here. Whether we are facing "good" or seeming "disaster," we have "a future and a hope." We have His presence!
© 2010 James N. watkins
God is never latebut He sure is slow
The King of tides
The desert and the parched land will be glad . . . they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God (Isaiah 35:1a, 2e).
Surrounded by lush ferns, towering cedar pines, and majestic mountains, the tidal basin of Washington's Puget Sound lies flat and lifeless. Only dead branches, rotting logs, and old tires emerge from this salt-dried waste land of brownish gray.
But hours later, the silver-plated sea spreads out across the barren land covering it with the sunset's burgundy, mauve, and dark pink colors.
Two times each day, 365 days a year, a "dry and thirsty land where there is no water" is transformed into sea of glorious colors.
Perhaps we, as God's creations, also experience the ebb and flow of emotional and spiritual tides. We climb lush mountain sides and descend into valleys gray with death. We taste the freshness of living water and the dry, salty taste of dust.
Maybe it is the harsh ebb and flow of life and death that hone our sensitivity to our world and our Godlife and death, pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, and the glory of God and the despair of this world.
For instance, in the past few weeks, I've enjoyed the joyful splashes of celebrating our grands' birthdays, having a picnic in Hannah and Kaylah's tree house and reconnecting with writer friends at Mount Hermon. It's also been a dry, gray weekend waiting for ultrasound test results that will reveal the viability of our unborn grandchild.
Through it all, the unchanging rhythm of the tide gives us hope that refreshment always follows dryness. And, above it all, shines the glory of God.
[Originally posted April 27, 2009. Paul and Amy lost the baby.]
© 1988, 2009 James N. Watkins
Living in the gap
As a teen, our daughter would have loved to live in The Gap, the trendy clothing store at the mall. Many of us live in the gap, but it's a gaping hole between jobs or perhaps relationships. There are gaps in our health (three surgeries at three hospitals in two months for one stubborn kidney stone). No one wants to live in those gaps, but they are inevitable.
There are two major gaps in the life of Jesus. Twelve years separate the story of Christ as an infant and Christ as a twelve-year old. Then an eighteen-year gap between twelve-years old and the beginning of his ministry at age thirty.
Luke 2 fills in those gaps with two short verses. Between infancy and pre-teen:
And between twelve and thirty:
And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people (2:52).
We rarely think of Jesus, the Son of God, needing to grow in wisdom and maturity, but that is exactly what Luke records.
As gaps open up in my life, my first reaction is to panic or get depressed. But the gap is also a time that God, in His grace, can help us to mature and grow through the experience.
Are you living in the gap? I pray that God's grace and the blessing of the people who love you, will make this a time of spiritual growth. And I pray that it won't last twelve or eighteen years!
[Originally posted June 15, 2009, while I was undergoing radiaction treatments for cancer. I've been cancer-free from 18 months!]
Some additional thoughts on gaps:
Some thoughts on life's tough questions
God is never latebut He sure is slow
Squeezing Good Out of Bad
It's only temporary
I have a friend whose answer to every trying situation is "It's only temporary." That's great advice as the economy continues to crumble, unemployment increases, homes are foreclosed, and pensions devalue. It's only temporary.
Nothing lasts forever: finishing school, looking for work, working the grave-yard shift, potty training, junior high band
concerts, raising teenagers, IRS audits, stock market meltdowns, medical crises, etc. It's only temporary.
For those who trust in God, life itself is only temporary. Eugene Peterson paraphrases 1 Peter 5 this way:
You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christeternal and glorious plans they are!will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does (1 Peter 5:9b-11 MSG).
Second Corinthians 4:16-18 continues the theme.
So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.
It's only temporary! Even junior high band concerts.
When life gives you lemons . . . check the delivery slip
We had just moved into our very first house when a burly police officer appeared at our front door.
"I have a warrant for the arrest of . . . ." Oh no, I thought, they found out that I ripped off that tag from under our new sofa that reads "Do not remove under penalty of law." Fortunately my name wasn't on the warrant!
Unfortunately, we learned that the house we had just purchased in a nice suburb had been the neighborhood crack house. And that funny weed growing within the shrub was indeed "weed." I was glad to tell the officer, "I'm sorry, you've got the wrong person."
And sometimes the lemon delivery driver comes to our front door, and our name is not on the delivery slip, either. Fred Smith, the president and founder of FedEx delivery, reminds us that we need to learn to distinguish problems from "facts of life." If I can do something about it, it's my problem. If I can't do anything about it, it's simply a fact of life.
Trying to sort out what part of the situation is a fact of life and which part is a problem is a tough question, but one that must be asked. We can't take on problems that are not our problems. Yes, we can pray. Yes, we can seek help. But we don't need to take responsibility for things that we had no control over.
So, when the lemon delivery driver comes to your door, ask to see the delivery slip. And if your name's not on it, don't sign for it!
Excerpted from Squeezing Good Out of Bad. (And if you're currently unemployed, click
here to order a free copy. Please only unemployed.)
Sometimes I'm afraid I treat God like the drive-through window at McDonalds. I scan the menu board of "promise verses," place my order, and then race my engine as I wait impatiently.
One week in 1988, I decided that I would try to get beyond my "McGod" mentality of prayer and just praise the Lordwithout
placing one "order." I picked the wrong week!
Monday, I discovered we had a little over one hundred dollars in our check book and bills of over a thousand dollars. Wednesday a publisher, who owed me several hundred dollars in back royalties, announced that it too was broke. I was tempted to shout my order into menu board speaker, but I managed to simply praise God that week.
Friday, while on my way to the bank for a loan to cover our bills, I stopped by my daughter's school to pay her tuition. There had been an error last semester and we didn't owe money that month. Praise the Lord!
My next stop was at a Christian university to check on some advertising copy I had recently written. "That was great," the director announced. "We'd also like you to rewrite all our admissions brochures. Do you think you could do that for around a thousand dollars." Praise the Lord!
I never did get to the bank. All our bills were paid. God does "work through those who praise Him. Praise the Lord."
© 2010 James N. Watkins
Is it a hangnail or hand grendade?
In Squeezing Good Out of Bad, I include a top ten list of ways to deal with life's lemons:
10. Don't confuse them with hand grenades (Identify the problem)
It's sometimes helpful to put everything in perspective. Is this truly a hand grenade or is it more in the category of a hangnail?
For instance, ask yourself, would I trade this problem in on a hangnail? How 'bout a headache? Harmonica concert? Hernia? Hair loss? Holdup? Hurricane? Hand grenade?
In the grand scheme of life, most "problems" are somewhere between harmonica concert and hernia. But I would have traded some hand grenade shrapnel for the restoration of a broken relationship or miraculous resurrection of a loved one.
Mostly, though, my problems are somewhere between a really bad hangnail and a mild headache. I've had very few "hand grenades" in my life. We can look at each lemon of life as a hand grenade that threatens to destroy us or as fruitful experiences that prompt us to grow emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.
So, today, put it in perspective.
(Read a complete chapter on putting pain in perspective. And if you're facing the hernia of
unemployment, click here for a free electronic copy.)
I like big buts
I like big buts and I cannot lie. No, it's not that annoying Sir Mix-A-Lot ditty. I like the big buts of the Bible. For example . . .
No one has ever seen God; BUT if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us (1 John 4:12).
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in
him shall not perish but BUT have eternal life (John 3:16).
Do not be anxious about anything, BUT in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6).
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, BUT the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express (Romans 8:26).
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, BUT a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).
We are hard pressed on every side, BUT not crushed; perplexed, BUT not in despair . . . (2 Corinthians 4:8).
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, BUT we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we areyet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
Do not be overcome by evil, but BUT overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).
God has combined the members of the [church] body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, BUT that its parts should have equal concern for each other (1 Corinthians 12:24-25).
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. BUT the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Yep, I like big BUTS of the Bible.
© 2010 James N. Watkins
You would expect the Son of God to begin with a more spectacular miracle: raising a corpse from the dead, healing a leper, multiplying loaves and fishes, casting out an evil spirit, calming a raging storm or at least walking on the sea. After all, this is the same God who brought us Mount Sinai, the Red Sea, and the walls of Jericho.
But Jesus chooses to launch his ministry of miracles by saving a party! More guests have shown up at the wedding reception than sent in their RSVP cards, and now the punch bowl is dry. So Jesus turns water into wine!
Water into wine? That doesn't bring anybody back from the dead, free anyone from life-threatening illness or even defy the forces of nature.
It does, however, reveal a God who is not just interested in the "spiritual" dimension of our lives or the "life and death" issues. Jesus reveals that our social liveseven our partiesare important to God. It would have been a disgrace for the host of the wedding receptionnot to mention the bride and groomif the refreshments would have run out.
In the same way, the Lord intercedes in the average, every-day, run-of-the-mill, mundane moments of our lives. A relationship with a God who was only interested in the "big" issues of life, would be no more personal than our relationship with the 911 operator. But the infinite, almighty God chooses to relate on a more intimate levelnot on the Mount Sinai's, but in the dining rooms of our lives.
© 2010 James N. Watkins
Here's a devo I wrote for the Upper Room's 2010 Disciplines book.
Read Psalm 4
Waiting is hard work!
Sitting in a "waiting" room mindlessly thumbing through old magazines as you wait for the nurse to call out the name of
your sick child. The numbness of waiting for test results that may change your lifeor shorten it. Waiting for a teenager to come homeand he's an hour late. Waiting years for God to bring a prodigal child home.
We're not alone in our struggles with waiting. Psalm 4 is categorized as an "individual lament." which make up a full one-third of the book's content.
Psalmists cry out, "Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble" (69:17), "They cried for help, but there was no one to save themto the LORD, but he did not answer" (Psalm 18:41), "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Psalm 22:1).
Commentators suggest Psalms 3 and 4 are written against the background of Absolom's rebellion against his father David as well as betrayal of some of David?s former supporters who have turned his "glory into shame"?
But the psalmist provides hope and some practical things to do while we wait:
1. Know that the Lord has set us apart as his own
2. Search your heart for any anger or sin related to this waiting period
3. In your angeror frustrationdo not sin
4. Be silent and listen for God's encouragement and instruction
5. Trust in the Lord
While David is in the midst of conflict, while he is waiting for God to act, he is confident that one day, his heart will be filled with "greater joy." He will ?lie down and sleep in peace," "For you alone, O LORD make me dwell in safety."
Prayer: Father, remind us that we are yours and help us to trust in you as we wait for you to act. Help us, by faith, to look forward to a future with "greater joy."
Paul and his bike were both banged up after a summer of skids, spills, and "wheel-ies." So one weekend, we spent hours sanding down the chipped areas on the fenders and cleaning the chrome sprockets and handlebars.
All the while, Paul was getting more and more impatient. "Come on, Dad. When are we going to paint it?!"
Finally by Saturday afternoon the time had arrived to paint the bike with gray primer.
"Why do we have to do that?" Paul demanded. "Let's just paint it jet black."
"Well, this gray paint will help the black paint stick better. And it will show up any places we need to re-sand," I tried to explain as I shook the can of spray paint.
"Can I do it, Dad? I'll be careful," Paul pleaded.
"Well, okay." I thought I had thoroughly explained the fine art of spray painting to Paul. But once the weapon was in his hands, he aimed and bombarded one small area on the back fender. The thick paint quickly began running in little gray rivulets over the edge of the fender.
"No, Paul! Remember, you've got to use real thin coats of paint."
"Yeah, but it doesn't show up that way," he countered continuing his attack.
"Well, it just takes a lot of thin coats. Sometimes the coats don't even show up," I said wrestling the can out of his hand. "But if you just keep putting on thin coats after thin coats, pretty soon it begins to show up. You just can't rush it. Just keep putting on those thin coats like this--" PFFFT! PFFFT!
Parenting is a lot like spray painting. If we bombard our children with lectures, the values we want to instill often "run"--or worse, our children run from us.
But it's a lifetime of thin coats of moral and ethical lessons. Consistent discipline that teaches a lesson. And if we begin the moment they come home from the hospital, those morals and values begin to slowly build up and produce a high gloss finish in our children's lives. PFFFT! PFFFT!
© 1999 James N. Watkins
Becoming like little children
I just filed a week of meditations for the 2012 edition of The Upper Room's annual devotional book, Disciplines. (I'm in the 2010 edition.) Here's one of my favoritesand one of my favorite pics of granddaughter, Hannah!
Read Mark 9:36-37
My wife would often roll her eyes and refer to pre-school Faith and Pauland meas her three children.
She probably had a point, but I took comfort in the words of Jesus:
"Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."
There is an adult-sized difference, however, between being child-like and childish.
Child-like adults are trusting; childish adults, gullible. A sign at an old general store read, "In God we trust. All others pay cash." We are taught to "trust in the Lord with all our heart" (Proverbs 3:5), but Jesus warns us to examine the "fruit" of those who claim to be His followers. Paul teaches "prove all things" and John warns to "test the spirits."
Child-like adults are innocent; childish adults naive. Jesus teaches us to be "gentle as doves, but wise as serpents." Or, as the Chinese proverb warns, "Fool me once, your fault. Fool me twice, my fault."
Child-like adults are enthusiastic; childish adults, impulsive. I'm still learning to look before I leap, weigh options before acting, and discern long-term consequences.
Child-like adults are imaginative; childish adults, delusionalwhich explains the lottery, Internet scams, and grandiose dreams that often turn into nightmares. The neurotic builds castles in the sky; the psychotic moves into them.
Child-like adults are creative; childish adults, destructive. Does our unique approach build up or tear down, lift up or put down?
And child-like adults are curious; childish adults, nosey. Nothing was more fun as a pre-schooler than rummaging through my grandmother's purse. I'm not sure why. There was little in there of interest to a four-year-old boy. I still have that curiosity, but now I have to watch myself that I am being curious about life, rather than a voyeur, gossip, or scandal-monger.
Child-likeness is essential for being a trusting, innocent, imaginative, creative, and curious child of God. But we need to be careful that it doesn't become immature childishness.
Prayer: Father, may we emulate your young Son who grew in wisdom, stature and in favor with God and man.
Freelancing offers freedom 'real job' can't
As a freelance author, editor and speaker, I haven't had a "real job" for nearly fifteen years. That also means that for fifteen years, I haven't had a regular pay check, health insurance, pension, or paid vacation. But before you think I'm sending out invitations to a pity party, let me assure you that it's been worth the white-knuckle trust that bills will get paid and the sleepless nights when there's no paying work the next daylike right now. So, I'm writing this to assure myself that:
I don't have a regular pay check, but I don't have regular hours either, so I'm free to babysit two adorable granddaughters one day a week, be there to help my daughter through the various challenges of her recent divorce, and drop everything to take off to Michigan to help with my ailing parents. (I just got back from having lunch with five-year-old Hannah during "Grandparent's Day" at her school.)
I don't have paid vacations, but I'm free to sit on the porch and read a good book whenever the weather is nice and work is slow. This year I've been able to speak at sixteen conferences across America and stay in some very nice hotels and be entertained at some very nice restaurants, sit on the beach of Lake Michigan, and enjoy the Rocky Mountains from my lodge.
I don't have a pension, but I have such a wealth of friends as a result of my writing and speaking; so many rich emails and letters saying that I have encouraged people along their life journey; and so many precious memories of moments with family that I would never been afforded if I was off working at a real job.
Yes, I'd love a regular pay check, health insurance, pension, or paid vacation. And, yes, it can be frightening being one project away from homelessness. But life is a trade-off andat least for mefreelancing offers freedom that a "real" job can't. And my prayer life has never been better!
© 2010 James N. Watkins
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