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I posted this a great while back. It’s worth a second look. A good friend of mine (who happens to be a fantastic writer) wrote this . . .

CHURCH: IN DEFENSE OF A BEAUTIFUL ONE

       We need to talk. After hearing the things you have said, we need to get some things straight. The Church has never been perfect. Call me crazy, but I think her incompleteness is one of her most attractive features if not her best. In the beginning I did find her shortcomings to be pretty annoying and even unpleasant. Looking at her past, it was an identity crisis of sorts. I do not think she had any idea of who she was. She was very insecure. Even now, there are times when she slips up and allows those loathsome lies to get the best of her. Those days are not her greatest, but eventually she finds herself. During those dark days she needs a little help recognizing her own beauty. Whispering softly into her ear I tell her how proud I am of her and how beautiful she is. I remind her that as much as she tries no one is perfect, that it is an impossible standard and that I do not expect her to be anyone but herself, that is the beautiful, mysterious being created by God. Other days, I do not even need to tell her how well she is doing. She knows and I know, but still I let her know I am proud.

       Truth be told, as great as she is and as much as I love her, sometimes I fear for her future. This world can be so cruel. Freely criticism is given without even the slightest of afterthought. Often you can hear the feint whispers as people slander her behind her back. Venomous gossip and malicious hatred are relentlessly hurled her way. I pray for her safety. Many will want to hurt her or worse use her for their own sick desires and some may succeed. At times she is so innocent and I hope that her innocence will stay longer than most, but this world will leave its scars. She will have her battles. There will be difficult struggles. I just pray she will not give in and give herself away. But she will make her mistakes and she will learn.

       In the end, she will make it. No matter what she goes through, no matter how much she endures, she will grow into the beautiful woman she was created to be. I believe in her and from the looks of it, I am not the only one who believes in her. There is this particular young man who will not leave her side and the way he looks at her…I know there will be a wedding soon.

-Will Simmons

I am feeling so blessed by the community of people that have been involved in my life.

My co-workers (past and present), churches (past and current), everyone of my facebook friends, and families members (immediate and distant).

The last few days have been more difficult than usual. Granted, raising four kids, being a salaried manager, and striving to be Godly in every aspect of my life isn’t the easiest path to choose; but it is certainly rewarding. Top that off with a sickness that has visited the Merced house the last few days, makes for a great “rubber meets the road” opportunity.

Knowing that I have friends, family, co-worker, and everyone in between thinking and praying for our family makes it so much easier to get through the not-so-easy times in life. It also makes the good times even greater.

God has designed us to live in connection with each other. From the very beginning He expressed that it was not good for man to be alone. I believe that applies to all of us.

We all have great day and good days, blah days and bad days, terrible days and tragic days. Rather than withdrawal . . . reach out.

Live connected and in community as the Designer designed it! If you are reading this, THANK YOU for being a part of our lives. We do not take for granted the blessing it is to know you and be a part of His ever present story.

– K

So over the last 5 years I have been involved in this thing that our culture calls “management”. The last few weeks have been more difficult than usual.

Let me share with you a few things (18 for now) that, if applied, will guarantee you success in whatever field you work in.

1 ) Show up to your shift 5 minutes early ready to work.

2 ) Do not bring your boss problems. Be a problem solver.

3 ) Because of the poor work ethic a lot of this generation has, it truly does not take much to set yourself a part from everyone else. Work faster, harder, cleaner and you will be better than those you work with.

4 ) No matter what you do, there is always something that to be done. Keep fine tuning your eyes to see how you can make your work environment better.

5 ) Never, ever, ever complain about your boss, customers, or other co-workers. You will actually make your situation worse.

6 ) When you’re called in, cover the shift. There will be a time when you might need a shift covered.

7 ) When you’re truly sick, stay home. You aren’t doing anyone any favors when you come in unable to do your 100%. Give ample notice and even have some ideas on how to cover your shift.

8 ) Ask your boss for feedback and be ready to receive what he/she has to say.

9 ) Do your 100% and more. Know that your boss notices you going above and beyond.

10 ) Be a forward thinker. Never settle with where you are. Keep learning, growing and improving yourself.

11 ) When it’s time to move on, give your 2 weeks notice and be 100% present until your time is up. Don’t be “checked out” before it’s time. Finish well.

12 ) Smile. You’d be surprised how many people miss this point.

13 ) In every industry, you can exhibit the best customer service. Ask yourself, “Who is my customer?”

14 ) You have an opportunity to impact your boss, customers, and co-workers. Take advantage of that and make a difference.

15 ) Work as if your working for God Himself.

16 ) Be the one who stops the gossip. Even if you don’t respond, just listening sometimes indicates support of such talk.

17 ) When you see others not demonstrating quality work, encourage them in a polite and professional way.

18 ) Don’t take yourself to seriously. Pride will prevent you from learning and growing.

Just a few of many thoughts I have had in the last 5 years.

– K

Hello online journal. Oh how I have neglected you. This weekend was a busy one. The more people I connect with, the more I realize that the being busy is more of the rule now a days than the exception.

Between work, volunteering, making time for friends, my wife, my kids, there seems to be less and less time to spend with the one whom formed me in my mother’s womb.

Why do we place the thing of most value to us at the bottom of the list?

Is it because we know He will never leave us? Is it because we know His grace is sufficient?

It never ceases to amaze me in the moments when my priorities are in order how much less stressful and chaotic things are. But when I am operating outside of God’s intent for my life, I am stressed, short fused and generally not pleasant person to live with.

Here’s to putting Him, His plan, His fame before mine.

-K

I try to chase after the result versus the means to often. I want to be viewed as a person of influence; but am I willing to discipline myself enough to become that person I am in my mind? I want to have a clean house; but am willing to put the clothes away even when I’m tired. I want to have well-behaved children; but I am willing to invest into them even when I have had a rough day at work? Sure, I can act as though I have it all together; but what’s that worth? How long does that last? Maybe until the next time I get angry and speak harshly to my children or treat my wife outside of how I need to treat her? What’s on the inside of my cup? The outside may seem clean; but if you pulled it out of the dish cabinet would it be clean enough to use? Ready to be used? I know I do not think on these things alone. Everyday we struggle between our desires and His.

God, surface the areas in my life that are still dirty. Give me the humility to allow them to be seen in order that You can remove the mess. Thank you God for loving us even though there is nothing we can keep hidden from You.

Matthew 23:26 “Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

These handful of years have just slipped through my fingers. So many life-changing moments all bundled up in a small fragment of  my life. These moments are making me who I am. Who I am is who I have been becoming. Everyday, I am closer to what God has intended. Some days, closer than others.

Decisions we’ve made, (believing we were in control of the outcome) have turned out to have had a better return than if we were the one’s in control. I know I am not. I do not have the ability to figure out the outcome. God does. He knows the beginning and the end. He knows everything in between. I pray in my journey that has intersected with so many amazing people be filled with hope and sole dependance in the One who knows  the outcome.

Though the road is marked with difficulty and joy, the outcome makes it worth it all. Everyday becoming more complete; bringing the goodness and love of God to those around me, my family, friends, and everyone in my sphere of influence.

My hope is not built on my strength, my knowledge, my ability or anything I am capable of doing. My hope is in Christ and His strength, His knowledge, His ability, and what He is capable of doing.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Roman 15:13

 I was just informed that my cell phone containing 10 plus years of phone numbers just took a trip through the washer.

If I have ever talked to you on the phone, your number was probably one that was washed away. If you don’t mind, could you send me your cell/home number so I am able to get in contact with you and remedy this unfortunate situation? Thanks for all of your help.

My grandfather passed away yesterday. I am still in the process of reacting to the news myself. So many thoughts running in and through my mind. Thoughts about him . . . about me. I am not as old as I thought I would be. I grieve. I grieve deeply . . . but I grieve with hope. I know what my grandfather is headed towards. He loved God.

I do not love God out of obligation. I do not love God because I’m afraid He’ll be mad if I don’t. I do not love God because I am afraid of hell. I do not love God because I want to go to heaven. I love God because in my state of imperfection, incompleteness, incompetence . . . He first loved me.

“Everyone sees it. God’s work is the talk of the town. Be glad, good people! Fly to God! Good-hearted people, make praise your habit.”  Psalm 64:9,10

It’s no accident that the majority of our growth occurs in the most uncomfortable or even unbearable situations. When we are comfortable, we have no need to grow or change. We are comfortable. It is in the undesirable circumstances , the storms that seem to be doorways to growth  . . . however long it takes for us to walk through it is up to us. We can fight it; but ultimately that change must take place . . . either that or we grow old standing in the doorway, but never walking through.

Life is a series of these doorways . . . doorways that build character, integrity, stability, endurance, perserverance, wisdom . . .  Now, I don’t know if I will ever actually desire or long for these doorways to growth and change; but if that is what it takes to stretch and grow me, so be it! As easy as it is to forget when you’re in the storm, I know I am not in this process alone. One of many things that connect all of us are undesirable circumstances. Let’s celebrate these moments. And if you happen to be standing at the doorway of something tough, walk through it. You’re not alone and you’ll turn out better on the other side.

James Chapter 1

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