Joan Reynolds

Real Faith, Real Life & Real Joy
Browsing Work

Limboland

May31

There is a place between here and there that feels kind of like nowhere.

When we are not quite going forward, but not really going back, where are we exactly? It feels a bit like being in a rudderless ship adrift on the sea, checking the wind or the weather for direction, even though if we actually had a direction those things would not really be all that important. We would proceed confidently in spite of them.

Some people are waiting on others to make a decision which will give them the information they need to choose, or  to accept, their next place or position. Trying not to feel like a victim during a time like that is a challenge in and of itself. Life consists of a series of events: some we put into motion, some happen to us. I have friends who believe that there are no accidents, that we have basically set everything in motion in our lives ourselves. On some level, I agree with her, but there are also some things that, while we may have had a part in bringing them about, we don’t have any control over how any others involved will play their cards.

As we go along through life, sometimes drifting is a way to take stock of ourselves. Like a day spent on the river, perhaps fishing for some people, life gives us moments to pause and reflect. Sometimes those moments may last for weeks or months. Perhaps that is because we haven’t taken time to bring ourselves up to date in a long while. So we had better make the most of it, as it may be awhile before it happens again!

posted under Family, Work | 1 Comment »

Time And Love

May29

While these really don’t appear to have anything to do with one another, they often do. Love is an expression; of our feelings, our commitment, our connection to one another.

Expression can be through the written word, or the spoken word, but usually it is in one of those forms. In a busy life contained within an even busier world, very often time limits everything. What we choose to give our time to often points out where our priorities, and often our hearts, lie.  If you are in constant contact with someone, a small comment like “I can’t talk now, I’m…….” is perceived as neither  a slight nor particularly personal in nature. From someone with whom you haven’t spoken in a year, someone as close in relation as, say, a brother or a sister, it is difficult to receive without a slight personal edge to it. We all have our duties and our allegiances, those to whom we are very careful not to let our words carry unwanted thorns. And then we have times that we are busy just trying to accomplish all that we have to do for those in our inner circle, or for ourselves, where adding  anything else to a full plate seems overwhelming.

Lost in those moments (we do not have time for) is often the essence and the promise of our future relationships. Will we even notice the place where the other person finally surrenders to not being a priority, not being even a little important, no longer an unexpected but perhaps wonderful interruption to their schedule? It is where one person seeks to exit from the pain of not being noticed, and withdraws to a more comfortable place in the shadows of anothers priorities. Much like the clear message that there can’t be a fight if one party stops fighting, there also can’t be depth and a growing love if one person stops making time for the other. It becomes a void where the absence becomes a hole where love used to be or almost worse, a numbness to any feeling at all. This being preferable to a harbored grudge or resentment, it becomes merely a bruise that over time and neglect will no longer hurt.

I am often struck be how a person’s smile, or face lighting up as they catch our eyes, does more for our bodies and spirits than any amount of vitamins and reading spiritually uplifting material can do. It takes little time, but instead a real recognition of the persons presence and value in our life. We all remember to say those things to their relatives when they have left this life, but did we always take the time to let the person themselves hear the light in our voices or our words that let them know they were priorities?

We can always improve on this as we face each day. We can always notice those to whom our noticing really matters. For me, it always comes back to the differences in the way God created us in the first place. There are amongst us individuals to whom everything seems personal. There are also those amongst us to whom life is a mountain of details needing to be handled. We each bring needed perspectives to our daily living.

The trouble arises when we forget our innate differences and just assume everyone sees life exactly as we do. Bridging those rivers is what real relationship is all about. Love, for me, comes from someone remembering to notice how different we are and yet taking the precious time to work at building and maintaining the bridge anyway.

 

 

Feed My Lambs, Feed My Sheep!

February3

I am back in the Bible study, trying hard to hear God, and yet not believing what He is saying, although I am getting confirmation so fast it makes my head spin sometimes. Today I was reading in John 21:15-17, the part where Jesus is telling Peter what to do. Peter is being questioned about his love for the Lord, to which he replies of course, you know that I love you, but the Lord is commanding him three times: then Feed my lambs, Shepherd my sheep, feed my sheep.

He has given me a ministry to be an advocate for working Christian single moms. They are His heroines, and He doesn’t want them forgotten, as they go about their daily struggles, rarely asking for any help besides prayer, relying on His provision for their needs and those of their children.

Meanwhile, I am still trying to figure out how I proceed with what He has asked of me, worrying about providing for my own bills and obligations and needs. He keeps impressing on me to step forward and do what He has asked, even though I cannot see how that helps my circumstances in the least. The drum in my head only beats louder. Follow me!

Sometimes, and frequently in the past, I must admit, God’s instructions have seemed crazy. They would seem to make me look irresponsible to others. He continually brings me back to “why do you care how it looks to others? I want you to see how it looks to me. I don’t have a back up plan. You are it! If you don’t put your puzzle piece down on the table, no one else can come and attach theirs. You will never see the whole picture if you don’t begin with the piece I have given you!”

Please don’t think He is yelling at me, because He isn’t. Like a parent who has reaffirmed the same thing several times to a child, He is only being firm, and perhaps a little frustrated. He knows I know better. I have already seen His provision for over 27 years of my life raising two children. I know His timing is perfect and He will never abandon me. So what am I waiting for?

Embrace the rain today and make the calls. Start the newsletter and let Him bring others to help complete it. I am beginning to think it may rain for forty days and forty nights if I don’t start right now! I am remembering Jonah on the ship and the high seas that nearly overtook them. He finally said to the sailors, its me. I am causing the trouble by not being obedient to what God has asked of me.

Lord knows, I sure don’t want to come face to face with my own big fish!

The Lost Week Of The Year!

December29

This has always been my favorite week of every year. It is the one most people take off if they can, but rarely has it ever been vacation time for me. It was just a week that no one thought about buying a home, or selling one. Since most people were dismantling their Christmas decorations, no one thought about painting their home either…until the first week of January when they noticed how empty and colorless it looked after the decorations were removed. Anyway, no one ever really needs me for anything during this week, so I am left to deal with myself and the things I never get to do for myself (read, I welcome those excuses and there are none to be found).

It always gave me  a week with no income, to think creatively about how to start out the coming year adding sufficiently to my next year’s income. To do this correctly involved a review of the past year as well. I spend most of the ‘lost’ week trying to sort out last years financial information. I have found that if I get it to the point where I can hand it over to my accountant in January, it is a very good start to the year. If I don’t get it to that point, and instead start the year with one foot in the previous year, I will be dragging it all the way through April 15th, and possibly through an extension into July as well. Instead of flying into the new year with great ideas and hopes, I will feel like I am trying to run with cement Ugg boots! This is one of the most debilitating ways for an entrepreneur to start their new year that I can think of, and yet it is already weds of that week and I have yet to start my financial adventure.

I will spend today trying to neaten up the room in which I will begin the process. This is a distraction, of course, and I think I would do better to grab what I can of receipts and bills and go to the dining room table. However that table holds memories of my Dad working on taxes for months at a time, and I will have to overcome that mental block first. It will remain a contest between old mental images and the new one I am trying to visualize showing a competent me overcoming the temptation to procrastinate into the New Year. If I could actually get this done in the year we are about to leave, I truly would not need a single resolution on January 1st. I would have already accomplished the most important one! Time to take out my post-it notes and plaster them all over the house where I will go to avoid the obvious. Look out refrigerator, bathroom, TV, books, here I come!

I will let you know who wins out :-)

posted under Finances, Work | 2 Comments »

Bad News/Good News?

October30

Seems like I just wrote about this, but I didn’t. Yesterday I got up early, got to work early, did all the pre-opening duties with a light heart, looking forward to a day of accomplishment. Our Regional Manager dropped in for a few hours, which was not unusual at all.

Somewhere around lunchtime she asked me to come into the managers office and close the door. Flag. Then she said she had good news and bad news. Red Flag. Which did I want first? The good news was like a joke (I no longer had to do ten craigslist postings a day), the bad news was that I was being laid off. Effective immediately, though they would pay me for today.

If they bought more properties they would bring me back. That was it. No good job, nice working with you, we will miss you, you really added something to the “team”….pack up and someone will take over where you left off.

I think my almost three months in corporate America has taught me more about why I love being self-employed than anything else could ever have done. Numbers game. Everyone is a cog in the wheel. Easily replaced by another cog.

They will deal with whatever they need to in order to keep everyone a nameless, faceless creature in the scheme of things. That’s how it works best. all the while every morning putting out senseless and endless emails and newsletters saying how important each one is. Sending you to classes, online or otherwise, to show you how individual and important people are and how ethics is key, the company’s true worth is its people.

There is no real concern as to what happens to that person or their family when the paycheck suddenly stops. No tears shed. Next?

As I drove home I called my Broker to say I am back and I can’t wait to see what God has in store! Within two hours I had phone calls from two pending sales that gave us the green light to close, sales that had been pending for over eight months.That’s the only sign I needed to know this was all planned out for me way before this happened.

But how sad for all the people who have to live in a corporate world, not knowing when they will be replaced. I can’t wait to get back to a world where I matter to the people I work for and with. My faith that the provision for my well being is from a far more abundant source than the name on my temporary paycheck has always given me more peace than this past three months of a safe and secure paycheck ever did. And that’s the real Good News!

Giving Credit Where It’s Due!

October26

Today was a truly amazing day at the place where I have been struggling. Today God opened the door for three single Mom’s with jobs to get an opportunity to turn a corner in their lives. This was purely His doing, because it had a lot to do with incredible timing, the opening of a place the size they needed, and a credit review override by my regional manager which all fit together at the same time.

It was a boost in my heart to see  it brought one of them to tears,as  she was clearly on the verge of being homeless with her fifteen year old child. Even with unemployment benefits and food stamps, the loss of her job and her home have had devastating results in her life. To be a link in the chain to help her get back on her feet and back in a place where she can find a new job and pull herself back up and give her child a firm foundation was a blessing to my life.

It was so obvious that God made a way for her today that she just cried in relief and gratefulness and so did the rest of us.That made me really see how even though this has been a difficult place for me to be, that God has not stopped letting me see His hand in my life by seeing it in others who cross my path, where He can use me as a vessel. It is another “good tired” day!

Need A Miracle?

October23

I am glad to report that God has one! I am encouraged to be able to say that God is still in the miracle business in the housing market! I was recently referred a client through my dear sister, a friend of hers who needed to purchase a home in a very short amount of time.

Time frame excluded, we still wanted to find the right home in the right neighborhood at the right price, all of which will provide this couple a very happy present and future. Her one request was for a garden, his for not too much yard and house to take care of. Throughout the course of three short afternoons we processed through approximately twenty homes, several who made the final cut, only to find that God snuck one in at the last minute that was perfection for both of them.

That is why I love my real estate….it is the most fascinating journey, especially with other Christians, to see where we are led and how we finally arrive at exactly the home that is their heart’s desire. The more flexible they are, the more God seems to be specific. The more willing they are  to compromise, the more He makes sure its a great deal!

I love that about watching it all unfold. He always knows who the sellers and the buyers are, and what will be a win/win for both of them. His timing is always right on!

If we are patient and willing to redirect our course, His path unfolds as we follow our daily instructions. It is subtle at the time and yet amazingly clear as you look back. I am always fortunate that the people I am meant to work with are always somehow connected to me, usually by people we know in common, but not always. Sometimes it is an internet profile that just speaks to the other person, or some other reason that just makes them call. We usually know on first contact that we are both in the right place and in good hands. It is a journey that never fails to be exciting to me, and I am so grateful for every opportunity that He brings my way. It continues to let me know that it is not a career as much as a calling, because it never seems like a job!

Good Tired/Bad Tired!

October16

There’s a difference. Today I started the day earlier than usual and was on the go all day, but I was working (on my day off) at what I loved. It didn’t feel like work, it felt like fun. And I am tired, but from exhilaration, not weariness.

I was able to help one single mom at 8am, after working a 12 hr shift at her job at a prison, get the key to move into the home she closed on a week ago; through no fault of her own or the seller’s (it was the fault of the  banks), the closing was deemed not to have taken place and has to be completely done over two weeks later.

I know that most of you realize it is difficult enough getting through the closing once, but having to do it all over….unimaginable! The testimony to God’s provision has been evidenced throughout this sale, but most by the way the four women involved handled it as it all went south. We all prayed about it and a solution was arrived at. When everyone has someone else’s best interests at heart it is easy to reach a compromise.

I was also able to have the day off today, after announcing yesterday to my manager that I am going to be going back to real estate full time soon, so I was able to meet with a wonderful couple who need to find a home this weekend. From what we saw today, I am sure God has one with their name on it!

This is why I love what I do. I am just a vessel for God to connect the dots. I know it and I am thrilled continually by that. Today is the first day in two months that I have been really good tired! I will take that any day of the week over the other, no matter how dependable the paycheck!

Where Does An Encourager Go?

October12

I am finding it more and more difficult to write lately. I seem to be on the verge of tears from morning til night. I can’t seem to get caught up on whatever is missing to make the tears stop. Nothing has happened recently. Nothing bad.

This morning I was thinking how important the good memories are to block out the ones I don’t want to revisit. Just somewhere to go in my head where there were other people and happy times around me, even if I felt a little like I was outside looking in.

I only seem to feel comfortable when I can cheer someone up, encourage them to see that things will get better. That seems to be what puts energy back into my system. But lately I have found that I am having trouble filling up. I seem to be down a few quarts!

It could be because I seem to have no time for anything but work, and I am so drained from that and my lack of contact with anything or anyone outside of it. I guess this is how so many people have gone through life. They have to find something for their time off that is so different than the daily grind.

I never had that situation before. I loved my work and all that went with it. I know that this time is just for a season, but why does it seem so much more difficult than losing my home, bankruptcy, and all the other things I seemed to bounce back from. I am asking God to help me understand this one, because it truly keeps me floored.

For the first time in a long time I know there is a paycheck at the end of a week worked, but there is no happiness to accompany it. I lived for thirty years not knowing when I would get paid for my work, but trusted that God would provide. This seems like I have somehow abandoned His provision, although everyone seems to think it is wonderful to know that I have a paycheck. It is a dilemma with which I continue to wrestle.

I need Him to send  the encourager to me. Perhaps that is why He wants me to see this. To see how important my “job” was when He sent me out to encourage others. To see myself as He sees me, the way He made me, and why.

Exceeding Abundance!

October6

Well, I do have some news to report. Good news. I have struggled with feeling like I was in a kind of prison over the past weeks as I absorbed all the energy around me at work that was less than positive and forward-moving. I took my son’s advice and wrote out my views on a word document, so that if I decided I couldn’t handle it anymore, I would have my words in a well thought out format. I must admit that was stellar advice! After I got it all on paper, it ceased running through my brain at night, costing me the much needed sleep required to help me deal with the day ahead.

That being said and done, I began to see changes in my work environment, where I was actually able to make positive contributions and stay out of the things that brought me such angst. Once I began to be able to start helping people find homes again, I started to feel better about spending so much time in one place, something I have never been able to do successfully in the past. I have always thrived in jobs where I drove around or moved around a lot (Stewardess, Realtor, Faux Finisher).

I also saw that If I asked God to intervene and truly bless me in those circumstances that I couldn’t seem to change, that He actually did exceedingly beyond what I could have imagined. I have begun to include in my prayer list even more wildly extravagant requests for my life! We will see how that goes in the near future, but I saw this week one incredible example of His abundant answers (hard to explain here without a lot of detail, but trust me, it was huge!)! I will keep you posted on the incoming results. It will be nothing less than exciting….it always is!

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