humility and the prodigal son

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Originally published on September 27th, 2006 at Onward & Upward

It was several weeks ago when I found out about the “arrangement”. In my line of work, you have to pay close attention to details in order to avoid mistakes. (That’s probably true for any line of work, but especially in graphic design.) A misspelled word on an ad that’s printed 150,000 copies isn’t a good thing!

I am very detailed-oriented – that’s one of the gifts God has blessed me with. I love my job because I don’t have to be a big picture thinker. My boss a few months ago complimented me by saying that she appreciates my carefulness, that our company has never had a credit relating to one of my jobs.

One of my coworkers isn’t as blessed to be detail-oriented. Not to say he’s a bad worker, but he just struggles in that area more. That’s when I learned of the arrangement that my boss made with him. If he went x amount of time without any mistakes, then he would get a (desirable) prize.

I burned with envy. I’ve gone months without making mistakes! Where is my prize? Should you reward someone for doing the bare minimum? Should I just do the bare minimum so I can get a prize too? What about going “above and beyond”? Is there no reward for that?

Now before you think this post is a rant, let me say that these thoughts didn’t consume my time. I knew immediately that wasn’t a very good attitude to have, but I wasn’t sure why. Yes, I mulled over the idea of an employer rewarding their employees. However, more I wondered why wasn’t my attitude correct?

The story of the prodigal son kept coming back to me. One son did everything wrong, ran off, squandered his inheritance, then came back to his father on his hands and knees. It’s a beautiful story about forgiveness and of Christ’s unfailing love for us no matter what we do. Yet there’s another part of the story that’s puzzled me – the part of the older son. The one who did everything right, who didn’t make the mistakes, who stayed by his father, and who wasn’t honored. That wasn’t fair either! His father should have done something for the good son too, right?

Last night at Bible Study, we were talking about humility when the answer hit me. The problem was the older son didn’t have humility. He was looking at himself and his own accomplishments, and comparing him to his wayward brother. The prodigal was proud, too – but was forced to swallow the pride when he found himself feeding pigs. The prodigal went back to his father humbled. The older brother’s pride kept him from truly rejoicing over the return of his brother. His pride kept him from acknowledging that his Heavenly Father might have other, more wonderful plans in store – and it’s not for us to judge who is “rewarded” here on earth.

With these thoughts, I think back to my coworker. I should be overjoyed that he is working to minimize the mistakes he’s made, and that our employer is gracious and understanding. It’s my own pride that keeps me from having peace and happiness. I pray that God continues to grant me humility as I stop comparing myself or be jealous!

“A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor…. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.Proverbs 29:23, Proverbs 11:2

101 bug bites

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**UPDATE: Pictures on Facebook and also at my brother’s website**

I am taking a break from scratching my hands, arms, legs, and feet to update y’all!

This past Memorial Day weekend, Paul, Jera, and I drove down to Magnolia Springs to meet up with the rest of my family for a fun camping trip. The campground is a bit south of Augusta, and about 3 1/2 hours away from Atlanta. (Although, it took us 2 hours longer to get there because of all the Memorial Day traffic heading out of the city.)

We stayed at two of the tent only walk-in campsites they have at the park. They weren’t true walk-ins – we could actually drive all the way up, which was nice! We also had water spigots at each campsite! After the last trip, we felt like we were living in luxury. :-) The bathrooms weren’t all that far away, and were fairly clean with hot showers (yay!).

Most of all, I enjoyed being with my entire family (hooray for AJ coming despite the dog! hooray for Molly coming! :-)). I wish we could get together more often!! Unfortunately, I think that we won’t be heading SOUTH to go camping until after Labor Day. It’s just too hot! However, we hope to have many future family camping trips. It’s a great way to both camp and see my family at the same time. :-)

Jera came with us, as usual. She did WONDERFULLY. We have found that every time we stop while we are traveling in the car, we need to take her out and walk her around a little. If we are good about that, then she is a nice quiet and calm puppy in the car. It was nice having my sister around this weekend, and one reason was because she puppy-sat. Jera was completely spoiled, after sitting on Amy’s lap and being snuggled all weekend. Also, she got to sleep with Paul and I at night instead of being locked up in her cage. :-) Jera doesn’t like being left alone, but she is perfectly content to be attached to a stake and enjoy all of us walking around. As long as we are good about keeping her active, she is completely content to sit when we’re sitting and sleep when we’re sleeping.

She is also a really smart puppy. The first night we were there, Paul and I were getting ready for bed when we realized that Jera was outside in the vestibule. She had figured out how to open the tent door, by grabbing onto the little tassel things on the zippers. So now we have to make sure the zippers are at the top of the door instead of in reach of puppy. Hehe. :-)

Other than socialize and sleep in tents this weekend, we also visited the aquarium, learned a little bit about the area (a Civil War prison camp, housing 10,000 people during its 6-week duration before General Sherman marched through), went swimming, ate lots of delicious food, took naps, and read books. We also explored the nearby trails, although we didn’t do any heavy hiking. Overall, relaxing and restful and fun. Oh yes, and itchy.
*Goes back to scratching bugbites*

tackling projects

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It’s been incredibly busy these days. I feel like I haven’t hardly had a moment to breathe! Of course, watching a movie every night for three nights in a row doesn’t help matters at all. :-) Also, this past week or so I’ve had various things to do during lunch so I haven’t had time to go home and relax like I normally do.

Last weekend was nice – we were able to tackle several projects around the house. First, we rented a carpet cleaner from Home Depot. Thanks to our annoying wonderful un-housetrained puppy, our white carpets were looking worse for the wear. So we actually did two runs with the heavy-duty carpet cleaner and it looks SO much better!

I took Jera outside while Paul ran the (very loud) machine. Since I had nothing else to do while I waited for Paul to finish, I decided to tackle some outside projects. First was finishing transplanting the petunias. I bought them a few weeks ago intending to put them in the ground in front of our townhouse and spent many hours breaking up the hard Georgia red clay, mixing it with fertilizer. The next day it rained, and I was sad to see that the clay clumped together again. I decided to go buy three big terra cotta pots, as well as two smaller ones for the chili pepper plants. They look really nice! I took a “before” picture, and now I need to take some “after” pictures. I’m just waiting for the petunias to perk up a bit. :-)

After I finished planting, I pulled out the bookcases from our outdoor storage closet. We bought them last February, intending to spray-paint them black and use them in our living room. My sister had spray-painted one of them when she was here for her spring break, and so I finished the other one. So glad to get that one done! Of course it took forever to clean all the black paint off my hands. :-)

Sunday after the carpet was dry, we put up the bookshelves and I am very pleased with how it looks! It’s like an entertainment center, without the heavy bulky feel that entertainment centers can convey. I will take some pictures, but first I want to hang the things I have on the walls. So it might be a while yet. ;-)

This weekend we’re going camping with my parents and siblings for Memorial Day. Should be fun! We’re looking forward to a relaxing weekend. (Paul took Saturday off! Hooray!) Speaking of which, I have so much to do to get ready for leaving tomorrow…

Here are some of the projects I am still in the middle of:

• Redecorating the living room. This entails hanging some pictures and other decor on the wall. Oh and… um… hemming the curtains…. *averts eyes*

• Decluttering the house. The problem with a bigger house is that you tend to collect junk more. (The apartment was so much easier to keep clean!) I have decided to start with the office, which never really got unpacked. I am trying to throw away all the electronics we have that don’t work anymore: battery backup, fan, printer, wireless keyboard & mouse, etc. Yesterday I bought a big plastic bin for all the random papers that we don’t have anywhere else to put (i.e. wedding cards). These things I’ll probably be able to throw out, but not right now. Experience has taught me that I always regret throwing out memory things when the memories are still fresh. In a few years I’ll be better able to evaluate what still really matters.

• Putting away my winter clothes. Right now all my clothes are sitting on TOP of the dresser, and on the floor of my bedroom. Not very pretty or accessible in the mornings.

do you smell the smoke?

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If you live in Atlanta, you probably do.

I’m just going to copy what Paul wrote, because he said it very well:

It seems like Atlanta will again wake up to smoke from fires drifting from southern Georgia. From Doraville to Downtown Atlanta it smells of wood smoke and the sky has a very hazy feel to it. It is amazing to see a city fully engulfed in smoke from fires hundreds of miles away.