Highlighted Blog #11 – Growing With God

A friend of mine writes this one, and of course, I have to follow it. But it’s not friend-obligation that makes me look forward to reading it. I believe in God, but I find that thoughts on Bible passages are not all I want for when I have my quite time with God. I want to know more.

What do different interpretations say? What was the history surrounding the things I read from the time? This blog goes more in-depth than most daily readings. And I love it.

I appreciate how the author takes time to dig below the surface. And it links to music I might never find on my own, broadening my horizons. Love it.

* For the month of November (the month of Thanksgiving in the United States), I’m sharing  writing from some of the blogs I’m thankful for. If you want thankful posts from my own personal day-to-day stuff, check out my Inspired By and Thankful For blog.

Customer Service and Life Tips

Those of you in my arena know there is no other way of saying this. I have the best job in the world. For me. I have the honor of providing tech support to WordPress users around the world. And I have an amazing company behind me (Automattic) that understands that the way to provide the best support is to provide support for the supporters.

Support gets tough sometimes. Like today. My brain just wasn’t up to par. My heart wanted to help people, but my brain wasn’t spinning at warp speed, and I was out of sorts.

I know why.

In the past two days I was informed that one young person in my world-circle had an untimely, unexpected death, and another person who is greatly loved, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

And I received a message about some unsettling behavior from others close to me. Behavior that dredged up a lot of past hurt and unfairness, making me want to retaliate, even though I knew that wasn’t the answer.

Bottom line? I was plain ol’ distracted, even while trying to focus.

I usually am very patient and have a knack for empathy. Today I was lacking in both. Really not cool for customer support. It was unsettling, and I felt like a failure.

But guess what?

My team had my back.

And my faith gave me support. By the end of the day, I was all right (and I even helped some people in the meantime).

How did this happen? By having caring people in my life.

When I was stuck (even on simple issues), my teammates backed me up, offering helpful answers and tips to help the people I was helping. And they never ridiculed me or made me feel sub-par. When I commented on the tough day I was having, they responded with cyber hugs and cyber coffee 🙂 (We work in places all around the world so it’s all cyber). No judgement at all.

This is an amazing thing in the work force, I am finding. In a world where the underdog is crushed, it’s incredible to find a space where everyone’s goal is to be kind and helpful. Amazing. And inspirational. I certainly hope I give that help to others.

While I never reached top-notch performance in the day, I was able to move on and provide quality support thanks to my knowledge that I had a team behind me.

I found out that one of the more difficult people I was dealing with today was really not mad at me personally. They were frustrated because of a work situation they were in. I really struggled to be patient with them as they swore at me through an issue they were having, and after we fixed their issue, they stayed on the chat line, venting to me about the pressure they were under. Thanks to my co-workers, I was able to have the patience and empathy to listen and support.

Because really, while we love WordPress and support it, the bottom line is that we care about the people who use it even more than the product itself. Thanks to my team and their support, I was able to dredge up the patience and understanding to convey that, even on a tough day.

When the work day ended, and the realities of life one again hit my brain, I went to my ultimate source of comfort. A daily devotional with Bible passages. Coincidentally, today’s section of reading was one of my absolute favorites, and it ties in with dealing with the harsh realities of life as well as customer service. Great stuff.

I have this color coded passage hanging on my wall at home. It’s from Galations 6 in the Holy Bible. I use the version called The Message:

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  • As always, thanks for helping me keep my sanity is also due to my greatest friend –my husband, Chris, who is always there to listen to me vent, remind me of passages like the one above, and point me back to the path of helping others when I go astray.

Ten Days in Dempster

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I spent August 6-16 in a church camp in northern NY. We do this once a year, staying in a cabin with my mother-in-law. Other in-laws join for parts of the week, and we get to hang out with friends we only see a few times of year. It’s a time where we celebrate our faith by holding a vacation Bible school, attending nightly services, singing and going to Bible studies (all optional but available). It’s a time of lots of laughter, rest, rejuvenation and a reminder of not only the blessings we have, but also a reminder of how we can take our blessings and use them to help others.

A favorite part of the ten days for me is seeing the intergenerational interactions. The 80+-year-olds inspire our teens while our teens take the time to encourage and hang out with the little ones. My age bridges the age gap as we help the old ones move about and guide the teens as they play with the younger ones when our energy levels lapse.

The focus of the kids program this year was “Shine Like the Stars.” Our universe is amazing! We had science lessons that took our breath away. We are so small and insignificant in the scope of all creation, yet we are still considered important and unique. Amazing.

The focus of the program for everyone was light. How can we help others by lighting and clearing a path for them? One way is to reach out to help those in need. One night we learned about a remote area of Africa in which a local-to-us-woman goes to bring books so kids can learn to read and broaden knowledge to pull themselves out of poverty. She brings school supplies, books, and computers to them (plus some resources for food).

While that’s not a specific Christian outreach, it’s really what we (those of us in the camp) believe our faith is all about. Reaching out to help others with the gifts we have been given. It’s all pretty awesome, imho.

Now I’m home and back to my beautiful reality, but I feel refreshed. And I already miss my friends.

What a treat this camp is for my family.

* Many thanks to Carrie Trapasso Halladay for the majority of the images.

Find a Church Service on The Web

There are so many reasons one might want to use technology for church or other type of religious service. (I’m going to use churches in this article because it’s what I’m most familiar with as a Christian). You might be ill, the roads might be dangerous, you might be traveling, or you might have a hard time picking which church you wish to attend. That’s just to name a few reasons, and it’s not even counting the times you attended a service and wanted to listen to a message again. The solutions to these issues might be right in front of you – and you just don’t know it yet.
Catch Sermons Week-to-Week
When my kids were younger, we were in a quandary. They were too old for children’s church, yet the adult church was just a bit, well, too adult-y. The material presented wasn’t age-appropriate, and for the life of me, I couldn’t remember any place in the Bible that dictated that being a Christian included a three-point sermon. My husband and I decided that we still wanted our children to learn about God, but in an age-appropriate setting. We chose to send them to Sunday school and not make them come to the church service.
This was great for them, but not so great for me. I missed the sermons. Fortunately there was a solution. I discovered that our church offered a podcast, available on the church website and on iTunes. It’s a free download that updates weekly. As I browsed through the Internet, I discovered that many churches offer this podcast option.
Find a Church Service on The Web For Special Holidays
Another issue we faced was the holiday one. My husband isn’t really big on crowds, and the religious holidays tend to have people packed into the church so tightly that one could feel like a a mummy in a sauna.
Our solution? We catch a service on the Internet, watching a service in real time with the computer hooked to the speakers, so we can enjoy the music and the message without the crowds. On non-holidays, we can watch services online at any time using sites such as ChurchOnline. My favorite part of the online services is that I can worship with people from all around the world.
Wedding, Baptisms, and Funerals
There are, of course, the special services, too. The services that you want to hold on to forever. Thanks to digital recordings, these special services are there for you to keep in your files so you can listen to them whenever you want.
If you want to give church technology a try, there are a few points to consider. If you are a church music fan, you might be better watching the services online or get the app for a church such as the Saddleback iPhone app. Most churches don’t offer music in their podcasts due to legal reasons. Also, find a church (or two or three) that you love, and ask what they offer. Some churches offer basic sermons while others do Bible studies and prayer sessions. Some even offer youth group online.
Give it a try, and let me know if you come across any great podcasts.

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