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Inspiration | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother
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Open for Business

“We’re open for business.”

Those words can be hard to say with a smile in a tough economy. What you are when times are tough shapes who you will become for a lifetime. Others have made it. So can you.

The Copper Lion, Inc.Ten years ago, my husband and I started our own home business, The Copper Lion, which does digital illustration and retouching for ad agencies.  Nine years ago on a Saturday night, we were paged at a baseball game. “Your house is burning,” a neighbor told us.

We raced home to a street of fire trucks. Friends met us. When the fire was out and heat levels were down, the fire chief gave us 15 minutes to remove any needed posessions. Friends helped Richard haul his office equipment out. They pushed, dragged, pulled, and carried his basement office equipment up what had been basement stairs, now littered with construction debris and insulation.

Sunday morning, we wore borrowed clothes and took our kids to church, kneeling in desperation – no home, no business, and no idea what would happen next. We moved to a friend’s house, and Richard set up a temporary office in a spare bedroom.

Monday morning, we returned to the shell of our home. The ceiling and roof were gone. We had water and phone service but nothing else. I needed to wait for fire inspectors and our insurance adjuster. First step: hung the American flag outside. Second step: set up a card table in the driveway and a long phone cord so I could answer the phone.

At 8 a.m., a client with a deadline called after he heard about the fire. I told him, “We’re open for business. Your work will be finished on time. And we’ll finish any other jobs you can send.”

Richard stared at me. “I’ll get to work.” He left and finished the job on deadline.

For the next 3 months, we lived in a 2 bedroom, 800 square foot apartment. Our kids called our bedroom “Dad’s office” because he worked in there, keeping our business going. I supervised the insurance claim and rebuilding.

Many would say a 1 year old business with a fire is most likely to close. By the grace of God, and with hard work, we are still here 9 years later.

When things are at their darkest, don’t give up your hope. Great opportunities present themselves in big disasters. Remember to be:

open for business.

God's Got This

A miracle is like a rainbow pebble that touches a pond and spreads multi-colored ripples to distant shores.

I’ve watched one happen this week online through Caring Bridge, a different kind of social media site – one that helps families in medical crises communicate updates to friends.

Three weeks ago, Kristy, the daughter of a friend & lady I work with was hospitalized. Nothing seemed to beat her infection. Her pain grew worse as she battled endocarditis.

Her mom kept me updated through the phone and Facebook.  Kristy’s condition worsened daily.

Her friends and family came together to pray for her – and to support her husband and 2 young daughters. Last week, she was rushed by ambulance to a teaching hospital 100 miles away, diagnosed with an aneurysm, and placed in a neuro ICU unit.

Prayer chains from Kristy’s hometown to the other side of the planet prayed for her.

The prayers grew more urgent. Surgery, predicted to last 12 hours, was scheduled. Kristy continued to pray. Two days before her surgery, while in Neuro ICU preparing for the operation, she wrote a poem:

He’s Got This

I will not fear, cause God, He’s got this
I will not tear, cause God, He’s got this
I’ll share with all, cause God, He’s got this
I will not fall, cause God, He’s got this
I will praise, cause God, He’s got this
My hands I’ll raise, cause God, He’s got this
I have no needs, cause God, He’s got this
I’ll plant my seeds, cause God, He’s got this
Those seeds will grow, cause God, He’s got this
He’s in control, MY GOD, HE’S GOT THIS!!!!!!

The morning of surgery, Kristy told her family and friends not to worry. “God’s got this.”  Updates were given by way of Caring Bridges. Facebook friends and family posted updates and prayer requests.  Her Caring Bridge guestbook filled with notes from those concerned about her.

Fourteen hours later, we learned her surgery was a success.

God took a situation straight out of the valley of the shadow of death and turned it into miraculous steps climbing a mountaintop.

Though I’ve never met Kristy, through her family’s updates, I feel that I know her now.

Those who face death and witness miracles are never the same. In Kristy’s case, by way of social media, I know God’s got this and will use her ordeal for good.

She’s reminded me once again life is precious and to treasure every moment with Richard and our kids.

Tiptoe with the Typewriters

“Young people get this stuff easier.”

For 14 years, I’ve worked as a corporate computer trainer. My biggest success story was a 70 year old lady who learned to keyboard and moved up to designing databases in 6 months.  She said, “If I can outlive 2 husbands in marriages of more than 20 years each, I can learn to use a computer.”

The biggest challenge is overcoming the Fear Factor.  I tried an experiment that can help. 

I did turnabout with high school students.  I divided 10 students into 2 teams and brought in typewriters for the challenge. One team had an electric typewriter, and the other had a manual. They had an assignment to type a page of text in an hour. I gave them 0 instructions on how to use a typewriter.

Questions asked:

  • Where’s the printer?
  • This typewriter needs a new toner. (I showed how to rotate the ribbon wheel.)
  • You have to push this bar for EVERY line?

It took each team at least 5 minutes to figure out how to put a sheet of paper into the typewriter.  Within an hour, each team had typed a paragraph.

I got out a bottle of liquid paper and told them, “This is spellcheck.”

After the challenge, I noted their frustration.  Then I told them I learned to type on a manual typewriter and remember when my school got a single row of electric typewriters. 

Then I told the teens that the amount of change I had encountered would be miniscule to what they will see by the time they are my age.

Finally, I added – to be open to the challenges those changes present. 

Never quit learning. Broaden your horizons. Try something new.

Yes, when I got my Android it took me a month to use it comfortably. My teens had to show me how to make a phone call and answer it. But I did learn it.

You can learn it too.

Think of it as a tiptoe through the typewriters to the 21st century.

3 Steps to Thriving Beyond a Dad Gap

Greeting card companies miss a niche market with Father’s Day cards.  They could have a bad dad section.  Some dads don’t deserve “world’s greatest dad” cards.  A card saying “Happy Father’s Day” and nothing else could help.  Maybe people won’t buy “world’s worst dad cards,” even if they are deserved.

Sometimes, the nicest thing that could be said is “thanks for leaving.”

My dad gap has early roots; he never saw me stumble and fall, perform, compete, graduate, or get married. I have no happy childhood memories of him.

Statistics suggest someone with my background will most likely repeat those cycles.

People with dad gaps can survive and thrive. The following help me:

1. Find Surrogates: Girls who grow up without dads are more insecure.  God sent me a wonderful husband and a handful of trusted surrogates who encourage me, validate me, and are there when needed.

2. Break Cycles: There is no “Healthy Family as a Second Language” class.  My kids are blessed with a good dad.  I watch him encourage, talk, and be there for them and marvel.  They are blessed to have a dad who not only cares but loves his family with his whole heart.  As I watch him parent our children, I experience for the first time that sometimes guys are good and dads are a great thing to have. We are not doomed to pass on the chains that bind us. We can break those chains. Good workshops, Bible studies, and a few good counselors helped me.

3.  Pay it Forward: When I was younger, surrogates stepped forward to try to fill my Dad Gap.  They couldn’t completely fill it, but their efforts laid the groundwork for me to find a good husband with whom I could build a healthy relationship. Now it’s my turn to pay that forward – to encourage young, struggling adults.

We always have hope.  Tomorrow can be a better day.  I thank God for helping me find beauty beyond the ashes of a rotten childhood.

Though I’ll never buy a Father’s Day card for my dad, I can help my children honor their dad and show him just how much he is appreciated.  And I can doubly savor how precious his gift of fatherhood to our children is.

Richard and my kids taught me that a good dad may be hard to find, but he’s worth the effort.

Chicken Little and Golgotha

Rooster in grass.
Image via Wikipedia

Pullus Parvus, otherwise known as Chicken Little, lived in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.  He was the best of all possible organizers, the top cluck, and he knew it.  When he crowed early each morning, all the other chickens in that tiny Roman province followed his lead.

One morning as he crowed, the people were shouting so loudly he had to crow twice as loud and long to signal all the other chickens that it was time to begin.  Strange – a crying man ran past him a little later.

Then the sky over the whole land suddenly grew dark. 

Chicken Little panicked and thought, “The sky is falling.  I will stop it.”

So he crowed and he clucked and he asked all his friends to crow and cluck with him.  If they made enough racket, the sun would return.

It stayed dark.  The earth began to shake and tremble.

Chicken Little panicked and thought, “The ground is going to split in half.  I will stop it.”

So he crowed and he clucked and called all his friends to join him.  As the earth trembled, they scratched and scritched, trying to hold the ground together, but they couldn’t stop it.  Chicken Little called out, “God, give me the power of Samson to stop this so I can hold our world together!”

It was still dark when a young chick squawked to Chicken Little and told him the curtain in the temple was tearing in half.

“I can’t allow that to happen,” said Chicken Little.  He sent word to his friends the sparrows to go to the temple and hold the temple curtain together with their beaks.  They failed.

Chicken Little was flat terrified.  He couldn’t make the sun return, he couldn’t stop the earth from shaking, and his instructions to the sparrows had failed.  He was out of control.

So Chicken Little fled the town of Jerusalem for the hills.  He hid on a hill, behind a bush, afraid of what would happen next.  He didn’t crow, for he was ashamed.

Three days later, he got scared again.  There was a huge rumble and a great light.  This time, he didn’t try to stop the rumble or return the sky to its normal color.  When the light became normal, Chicken Little decided the sky could not have fallen.  The sun was back.

He picked and clucked his way out behind the bush and saw Roman soldiers fallen to the ground. A tombstone had rolled from a tomb, and Chicken Little went inside.  He saw an angel sitting there and asked the angel,

“God made me to crow and keep all the birds of Jerusalem together. 

“But the sky turned dark and was going to fall.  I tried to stop it and failed.

“The ground shook and was going to split.  I tried to stop it with my friends, and we all failed.

“The curtain in the temple tore in half.  I tried to fix it by telling the sparrows what to do, and they failed.

“How can I ever believe in myself again?  How can I feel safe?

“This morning, the sun turned bright, and there was this rumble, and I did nothing because I was afraid.

“The sun is back in the sky, the sky did not fall, and the ground did not split.

“But I will never believe in my abilities again.  I am mad at God too – why didn’t He help me?”

The angel looked at the poor bird and told him, “Oh ye of little brain.  When the sky turned dark, God was with you.  When the earth shook, He was there too.  This morning when you saw that light and heard the rumble, it was the Son – not the sun.  He rose from the dead to save all mankind.

“This is a day for the birds to sing.  One day, at the end of the age, the sky will seem to fall.  Nothing anyone or anything does will change that.  We cannot worry about it now.  The Son, the Savior, just won the greatest battle of all time.

“Go, find your friends, and tell them to sing, cluck, and quack in honor of the King of Kings.”

Chicken Little scooted out of the tomb just as he heard feet running .  He summoned all the birds of Jerusalem to sing a new song and rejoice, for the Son of Man had saved the world – not Chicken Little.

After that day, Chicken Little still crowed every morning to summon all the other birds to the start of another day.  But when he crowed, he didn’t crow of his own power, or in pride of what he could do.

He crowed in honor of God.  He could use his talents to proclaim God’s glory but could not use them to play God.  And now Chicken Little knew the difference.

Christ taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”  Sometimes when we try to stop the sky from falling and earth from shaking, we don’t know the big picture and don’t realize the hand of God is already there. 

When it happens, ask Him for guidance.  He will guide you as the Holy Spirit brings you peace.  As Jesus told the leader of the synagogue in Matthew 5:36, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”

Happy Easter.

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