There’s Hope

“…but those who hope in the Lord  will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  – Isaiah 40:31

My work contract ends on March 31.  My bosses are working hard to keep me.  However, visa issues have kept them from making any promises if I’d stay or leave. 

If I’d manage to stay, I would survive a second redundancy case.  Being kicked out is nothing new.  Working in the Middle East as an expat is an uncertainty these days. In fact, it has been, the past couple of years.  My husband was actually one of the first casualties.

It’s sad considering we’re still way above our heads in debt.  And with my husband still unemployed, I should have worried myself to death, or to debt, for that matter.  To even imagine the prospect of being jobless as well, would have made me cringe.

But even I am surprised how the grace of God has given me the absolute trust that my husband and I are not alone in this plight.  I know that He sees what we are going through, and He will not leave us alone, helpless and hopeless.  

I don’t know what’s in it for me by the end of this month.  But God knows.  Because he had already written it long before I was even born.  He planned it for He is the architect of my life.

Surely His plans are not to harm me, but to prosper me.  Exactly how, only He knows.  And if only for that, I should not be afraid.  Because if I depend on what I know, there’s nothing but despair.

But in God, I lean on because only He knows what my purpose is.  Through Jesus Christ, who is the Way, I shall find it.

Abundance as a State of Mind

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” – Acts 4:32
We have been praying to receive our annual bonus.  Oil and gas companies are not doing well in the Middle East, so our expectation is as low as our revenue.

But hope is there until we received the email confirmation that there will be no bonus or salary increment this year. Oh well, we’re still grateful that we still have jobs.  Our faith is in God’s plan.

We would not know what exactly the plan is, until it unfolds before our eyes.

Then I remember the story that’s gone viral in the internet, about a student who they say is Einstein (though some say it ain’t him). He argued with his teacher that there is no evil, but the absence of God in our heart.  Much like there is no darkness, but the absence of light.

Abundance in the universe is always there ready for our picking.  It’s just up to us which kind we choose to see, partake and share.

So scarcity is actually non-existent.  It is the absence of an abundant mindset and the presence of a selfish existence.

If our mind dwells in what we lack, no amount of wealth can satisfy us. But if we choose abundance in whatever form, nothing will ever fall short.

Bonus or not, I choose to always be grateful, because if God is all I have then I have everything I need.

Bloom Where You Are Re-planted

“Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them…” 1 Corinthians 7:17

I just celebrated my 48th birthday a few weeks back. As part of my annual sentimental “look-back” at what have been, I realized that there is one constant that dominates the story of my life- and that is MOVING.

Before I finished my studies, I lived at 5 different houses and went to 8 different schools. from the time i got married until now, I lived at 9 houses and worked in a commercial establishment, a government agency, a bank, 2 schools and a hospital. That does not include where I live and work now.

Sometimes I wonder what my life could have been if there wasn’t too much action. How stress-free it could have been if i work at the same office table until i retire. And how comforting to live in just one house until my last breath. But who really knows?

So S also wondered how it could have been if I was stuck in only one corner of the same office and worked consistently on the same assignment everyday. by now I would have probably mastered the grooves and accomplish all without batting my short lashes, but how bored to death I would be now.

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I also wondered how many places I would not have the privilege to visit if it was my destiny to normally age within the four corners of the same house i was born to. How I would have missed the rapid beating of my heart whenever i experience the rising of the sun and its setting from different perspectives, the changing of the seasons under a different view of the sky, the genuine tastes and sounds of various societies.

And yes, I wondered how many people I would not have met… and known… and loved, if I was just bounded by the walls of my immediate family. I would not have known people from other nations who are as diverse in our culture and tradition, yet so similar in our humanity.

Moving is actually a joyful adventure for me rather than a futile exercise; like a flowering plant that is constantly being pulled from where it has grown its roots and re-planted to a new and strange spot. It may be a new pot or a beautiful garden. It doesn’t matter where, only its purpose is to bloom.

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I believe I am God’s little flower. And I am repeatedly being uprooted and re-planted to serve my purpose. I am in the here and now because God planned this from the beginning.

When it is time for that little flower in me to move again, I will no longer wonder. because all I need to do is bloom.

All The Sweet Moves

“For it is God’s will that by doing right you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” 1 Peter 2:15

Holy Monday, and here in Bahrain it’s business as usual.  I’m unable to go to Sacred Heart church all by myself,  yet thanks to technology, there is no lack of literature and videos that could somehow remind us of the importance of this week.  Not to mention the Holy Bible.

I’ve been distracted the past weeks.  Had recurring respiratory ailments, was busy with the tender , still concerned with Miguel’s pending leap from a career in films to a life in the kitchen, excited about Megan’s graduation, and worried about the hot weather when we come home for vacation in Pinas.

In similar situations prior, I vent all my perceived helplessness by binging on food.  They say sweets are great stress busters.  Especially chocolates.  But somehow added stress goes with the end result of having to lose the extra pounds later.  So eating just for the heck of it, is just a temporary relief.

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Now I found another sweet way to battle my way out of  the “insanity” of  it all.  Who says only the young can play candy crush?  It’s calorie free, but it’s bad for my eyes.  And it makes my back ache.  Yet for some precious MY moments when I reach home, I transform from a middle-aged, tired, sickly, corporate lady to a fresh and vibrant girl again.  All because of candy.

As I play it over and over, I learned that no matter how I try, if I am meant to stay on one level for a period of time, my jellies won’t get crushed, even if only one has to remain.

It’s not about the candies. It’s how they fall on my favor.   Because even with candy crush, someone wiser designed them so.  I just have to persevere. But not lose the enthusiasm  to play the game.

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Do you feel stuck where you are now? That you are heading nowhere despite the effort?  Do you instead get negative results after all the hard work and late hours? Do some obstacles block the plans that you so long prepared for?

We don’t have five lives.  But we have infinite chances to learn. We just have to try and try.  Even if all options seem exhausted.  We just need to wait. Try once more.  Until we got all the right moves. And everything falls into place.

when the time is now

“Do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” 2 Peter 3:8

we’re now ten days into 2011, and i still don’t have a list of new year’s resolutions.  not that i even plan on having one, but it has been tradition that before the old year ends, the list should have been done and must be followed from Day 1 onwards.  but since it’s a bit late already, maybe my new year’s resolution is to not have any new year’s resolution at all.

before Christmas, Megan was giving slight hints here and there about what gift she really wanted-a canon 550d camera.  since it is quite expensive and we don’t have the money to buy one just yet, i told her that patience is a virtue. wittingly she responded that time is goldhaha!  that camera might as well be gold!

aah youth! –  carefree, always in a hurry as if there’s no tomorrow.  but only with age will they realize that time is just a passing fancy.  and i sure finally did. in fact, as i grow older, i perceive time as a curse.  especially when life is defined by the years, months, days, hours, minutes, seconds, nanoseconds… 

when i was younger, i used to believe that time is really gold because our culture dictates our life in terms of the years that we live.  like when at 12, one has to finish grade school.  one can vote or date at age 18.  by 20, one has to finish college.  by 30, one has to have established a career already, earned his 1st million and settled down.  between 30 to 40, one should already have a family, built a house for them, sent kids to school…

between 40 to 50, one would be preoccupied with advancing with that career, take care of seeping health issues and playing on retirement plans.  at age 60 onwards, one should then enjoy the fruits of retirement, then eventually die of natural causes or old age.

imagine the frustration when one doesn’t catch up with the hands of time.  i won’t be surprised if that expensive rolex, that cheap wall clock or that annoying alarm clock can be as deadly as a butcher’s knife.  these timepieces may actually be the number one cause of stress.  and stress as we all know is the number one cause of any illness, or the reason some diseases get even worse  for that matter.

 it’s been two months since my surgery, and i’m still stuck here in my room. since i felt stronger, i think that i should be elsewhere doing something else, which “culture” expects of me.  but God put me exactly at this spot at this very moment. just as He planned.  building up my patience, strengthening my faith and bolstering my confidence in what He has in store for me.

we should be defined by the moments we live. not the hours we spend catching up with the future.  not the minutes fighting off the ghosts of the past.  we are in the here and now. and whatever we think or do now, will shape up our tomorrow .  or change how we look at our yesterday.

if you want a taste of hell, go ahead.  stare at that clock as it excruciatingly tick-tocks your life away.  waiting for that something that may just happen only after a century, or worse, may not happen at all.  do whatever you can wherever you are-NOW.

remember that in heaven, there are no clocks.  no calendars.  no new year’s resolutions. only moments of everlasting joy and infinite bliss with our Lord.  so savor each moment like you’re already in heaven.

never alone

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

yesterday i experienced the scariest and weirdest moment ever. 

you see, there is no company transport provided for us,  so i have to go with bhoy every morning.  that means i am always an hour and a half early for work.  that also means that it is my duty to unlock the office main door and switch on the lights. it also means that i could enjoy some peace and quiet before each stressful day.  there’s time for me to pray the rosary, retouch make-up, clean my desk, read the news and update my facebook status, even before everyone else arrives. 

except for some familiar sounds that come from the kitchen, which by this time i’ve already gotten used to, nothing unusual happens.  not until yesterday morning.

as i placed my bag and packed lunch on my desk and was about to take a seat, a loud banging on the glass part of the wall divider behind me swallowed the silence that i’ve grown to love now. BANG! BANG! BANG! as i turned to look at where the eerie noise was coming from, my heartbeat raced really fast that i felt it was out of the building within a sec.  but then, the rest of my body froze in my seat.  I WAS REALLY, REALLY TERRIFIED!!!  (thanks to my love affair with horror movies, my imagination became gory and gruesome OMG! )

the first thing that i could think of was a remote possibility that there maybe somebody locked inside the office the day before.  the second thing was oh well!  i could not think of anything more other than how scared i already was. as i sat motionless for like an eternity, i just prayed “Oh God, please don’t leave me. I’m all alone.”  minutes were transformed to forever.  you can just imagine my relief when my officemate and friend, mila, eventually arrived.  it was then that i got my heart back to its rightful place…my frightened heart that seemed to have taken a flight back home to laguna.

of course there may be spirits or souls that roam around, whose energy may have caused that really loud banging. and so, i was really wrong when i thought i was all alone.  in fact, i realized now that indeed, i was never alone. and never will be.  to quote Pope Benedict XVI during Sunday’s Angelus prayer, he stressed: “Every time we recite Our Father, our voice becomes entwined with that of the Church, because those who pray are never alone.” http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=37525

in connection to my weird experience yesterday, this legend about the cherokee indian youth’s rite of passage was sent to my email this morning. here goes:

his father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone.  he is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. 

he cannot cry out for help to anyone.  once he survives the night, he is a MAN.  he cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own.

the boy is naturally terrified.  he can hear all kinds of noises.  wild beasts must surely be all around him.  maybe even some humans might do him harm.  the wind blew on the grass and the earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing his blindfold.  it would be the only way he could become a man!

finally after the horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold.  it was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him.  he had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.

we too, are never alone.  even when we don’t know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us.  when trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.

Moral of the story:  Just because you can’t see God, doesn’t mean He’s not there.

oh yes God is always with me.  but question is, am i with him? or will i rather be elsewhere? how many times did i go astray and got lost along the way? do i sometimes get ahead of Him who is supposed to lead me instead? 

next time any sound breaks that precious silence again,  my prayer is that the presence of God would build up my courage and strengthen my faith.  let it be a resounding assurance that He will never ever leave me, even when most of the time i am not worthy.

The Helper

“I will ask the Father , and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;  that is, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you…But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”  John 14:16-17, 26

once a year, OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) usually take a month off from work.  most choose to go back home to relax, and rekindle relationships with family and friends.  

during this period, it is a treat to have some household help around to do chores for us.  because while we spend eight hours a day saturdays to thursdays at work in the foreign land, we also spend after-office overtime in the kitchen to cook and do the dishes, do the laundry, clean the bathroom, vacuum the carpet, pick up groceries.  the list is almost equal to the number of hours in a day.

but back in our homeland, a helper is willing and happy to do all that and more, at a comparatively lower monthly fee than what the dry cleaners and the friendly neighborhood carwash boys charge on a per job basis. 

Fely is small and petite, but there is no question that she’s a lot stronger than anybody may perceive her to be.  she’s almost like a superwoman.  besides, she maintains that cheerful disposition no matter what she does and when ever her call time is.  you see, she is not a maid who stays in the house 24-7.

Fely is our on-call helper.  and she’s always available when ever we need her.  for that, we are especially grateful to her.  not only because she does things for us.  she enables us to spend precious thirty days with our family without the hassles of usual household chores.  she makes our holidays more worthwhile, stress-free and special.  so that when we go back to our workplace, we are recharged, rejuvenated and renewed.

our souls also get tired and weary.  especially when we live against the Lord’s teachings.  when temptations come our way and we give in, our spirits experience the artificial “high” which eventually does not last long.  when troubles come our way, our souls get quite a beating that leave them bruised and battered.  and so like our physical limitations, we realize sooner that our souls need help too.  

before Jesus ascended to heaven, He promised to give us a Helper to quench the thirst of our weary souls.  a Helper to guide us through the highways and byways of life to never lose sight of God’s mansion where rooms are reserved especially for us, His children.  a Helper to teach us all things, when our foolishness gets the better of us. that Helper is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity. 

today is Pentecost Sunday, fifty days after the Passover, and seventh Sunday after Easter. this was the time when the Holy Spirit came down to the men in the upper room after Jesus’ ascension to heaven.  as had been promised, a strong wind filled the house and tongues of fire came to rest on each of them and they all were filled with the Holy Spirit.

since then the Holy Spirit dwells in our midst, always within reach, within us. with utmost humility, let us all acknowledge His presence and seek His guidance in every aspect of our life.  especially in times of distress and tribulations.  we can always depend on the Holy Spirit, our Helper,  to strengthen our faint and sagging spirits with His seven gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel (right judgement), fortitude (courage), knowledge, piety (reverence) and fear of the Lord (wonder and awe).

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Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Pray: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Your love.

V. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created,

R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

O God, Who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of Your faithful, grant that by that same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

some kind of light

“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” John 21:18

my daughter megan was compared by my mom with Christmas lights that blink and blink.  when she was younger, she had  a temper which she undoubtedly got from me.  fortunately she got the ‘flash’ type temper.  ’twas here, next second pfft, nada, gone. 

i wish i could control my temper like that when i was younger.  like a switch, i could have just turned it off as quickly in a flick.   and so should the spanking too.  (if that caused my behind to be this plump,  something good came out of it somehow, ha-ha.)

this is just to point out that as we grow older, the more subdued and considerate we become.  when as infants, we cry when we were hungry or wet,  no matter if it was in the middle of the night when everyone else was asleep.  or we smiled and giggled when we feel like it, even when there was no one around  to smile with us.  who cares?  as kids, we were carefree. no worries, no inhibitions.  walang pakialam sa mundo.  at walang kamalay-malay. we didn’t care what time of day, or night it was.  our parents took care of everything we need.

when we matured as teenagers, tougher rules were implemented.  parents stared at the clocks longer. tick-tock, tick-tock.  “time to do this, time to do that”.   “you’re late again”.   darn! these were played on and on like broken records.  that’s the reason we couldn’t wait until college graduation was over.  when finally, we would be able to find decent jobs and meet financial bliss minus parental restrictions.  aaaahhh sweet freedom!  haha! or so we thought…

we don’t realize it until later that as we went about to build careers and eventually settle down and raise kids of our own, that we were never  free afterall.  when we signed employment contracts, we were bound.  when we get married, we tied the knot.  and the marriage contract didn’t even have an expiration date.  and the power over our own life would remain a dream, because our sense of responsibility decides when to turn on and off our self-indulgence.  we will forever be prisoners of time, jobs and loved ones.  or on a grander scale, prisoners of our own organization, company or advocacies.  

by prisoner here meant to be involuntarily restrained.  as adult human beings, it is an instinct to belong.  and to belong means that one exists no longer for himself alone, but for someone else or something that he puts higher importance to, at times even more than himself. this requires sacrifice and self-denial especially when one’s desires and comforts are set aside for the well-being of another.   

when we stretch out our hands to be tied down or when we allow ourselves to be taken and girded to be carried to where we would not want to go, we are perceived to be prisoners by human standards. but when we conform to a higher spiritual order, the restraints become the most profound symbol of freedom.  chains are made of love instead of steel.  and the prison walls of  warm embrace, instead of concrete.  when we are finally freed from the bondage of our own selfishness, we finally taste freedom of the sweetest kind.

Jesus stretched out his hands to be crucified.  He allowed himself to be girded by others and carried away to where we would not want to go, to Golgotha where His body and blood were sacrificed so that we may be all be free from the bondage of sin.  it was not about weakness.  but obedience.  and love.

the fate of St. Peter was predicted to be like that of his Savior, only upside down.  though he “blinked” 3 times, when he denied Jesus, he freed himself from the anguish and shame by accepting his designated task on earth.  to be the rock upon which the Church would be built.  to be the shepherd of Jesus’ flock after His Ascension.

wouldn’t it brighter, if instead of blinking lights, we would rather be spotlights?…ever radiant and focused where the hand of God sets us upon.

message sent

“And the angel said to her ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and you shall bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom, there will be no end.’…

…And Mary said ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:30-33, 38

have you ever wondered how simple misunderstandings result to  severed ties, destroyed friendships, couples split-up and broken families?  how about workplace foul-ups?  ha-ha, now tell me about it.

yesterday was my lucky day.

a corporate volcano spewed verbal pyroclastics and an emotional flow of  utter annoyance  from the intense heat had taken place.  if  i had given into temptation, a full-blown eruption could have ensued.  but thank God,  i was able to hold my composure, and my joyful nature prevailed. 

it all started with a simple email, the response of which should have been the answer to my query, or a simple idk ( i don’t know).  but instead the recipient confronted me asking me why i sent him the email, that he was not the right person to send it to, that he doesn’t have any idea of what i was asking for.  i tried to reason out with him but instead his voice took on a higher and angrier tone.  i was dumbfounded because i have absolutely no idea where all that furor was coming from.

God knows how much patience kept my tolerance to a manageable level.  until finally the guy got tired, probably because he did not get the reaction that he expected.  he started to walk away.  as he did, when i realized he already let his guard down, i told him with poise and dignity intact,  “your reply could have been just a simple yes, no or i don’t know.  no more, no less.”  we could have spent our time in more productive endeavors, and preserved a bit of whatever is left of the wee respect that we still have for him.

the trouble with people is, sometimes we tend to read between the lines instead of accepting the message at face value.  we are always suspicious that maybe, we are told with what was meant otherwise.  if we keep living in doubt, then where will we find certainty?

today is the feast of the Annunciation.  when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she will be the mother of God, indeed she was full of grace, she had enough faith to believe.  just imagine if she did not say “let it be done unto me according to your word”

Jesus is the message sent by our Father for our salvation.  let us then, pray for discernment.  so that when we respond, it wouldn’t rot in the outbox.  but rather, by our acts of faith, we would be able to forward them.  and through us, that same message of  God would be sent.

war in the workplace

“Forebearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any:  even as Christ forgave you, so also (do) ye.”  Colossians 3:13

office quarrels“war erupts in the workplace”  definitely an odd headline in the newspaper.  but it sounds familiar; and it happens especially when tensions builds up and stress factor arrives earlier than the rest of the office staff.  instead of bombs exploding and guns firing, what you get are intermittent sound of banging folders and box files, uncomprehensible murmurings and sharp gazes.

it is amazing how we managed to get through these quite dangerous exchange yesterday.  though there were no physical injuries, emotions went up and down like roller-coaster and everybody held their breaths waiting for the next barrage of surprise attacks, leaving us all emotionally exhausted by the end of the day.

the cause of the conflict was really petty and immature for professionals.  something like unequal work distribution. something like getting more than the fair share.  (hello, is there ever such a case as equal work when there’s no such thing as equal pay?)…and following the job description to the last detail (hello again, can we no longer do a little bit office criticismmore for the team without expecting something in return?) you see, though all of us are educated, we have different personalities and characters. and as such, different attitudes and behavior when it comes to work.  most are dedicated. but some, though hard-working, are calculating and dissatisfied.  they constantly see themselves as better than the rest.  they are as driven in doing their jobs, as well as looking intently at how the others are doing theirs.  and they are jealous whenever somebody else was appreciated for a better performance.  they also see to it that their assignments are directly proportional with their salaries.  as i look at them as human beings, i see sad souls trying to do what they are tasked to do, but never really knowing why.  like dogs running around in circles trying to bite their tails.  these are the kind who believes they are working their butts out to get to the top, so that when they reach it, then they will no longer be servants.  but masters.  ahhhh such pride!

cheerful workeron the other hand, there are those who are cheerful doers.  they are usually the meek ones who are quite often taken advantage of, simply because they are good followers too.  they often do the work, which the more aggressive ones boast and claim that they did.   they are content with the position that they have, because they are somehow afraid of  ‘heights’ and vast responsiblities.  they are ready to assist, and oftentimes pleased with themselves that they are able to lend a hand.  their needs are simple, and therefore, content and thankful that they are fortunate enough to have a job that provides them a paycheck by the end of each month.  imagine what joy a bonus can bring to them!  the aura of these kind of people exudes a bright atmosphere to a war-torn department and  neutralizes the moral ambiguity and negativity that the other kind brings forth.  these are the kind who serve with humility. who believes there is nothing shameful to be of  service to others.

so you see, we don’t have to be in a war-torn nation to feel terrorized.  but then again our positive perspective towards work can make a big difference in our life.  just like yesterday.  consider it as an opportunity to activate virtues of patience and perseverance.  we wouldn’t know the level of tolerance that we have unless we are tried and tested.  and if we are, it is always the best weapon to get back to basics and ask how God would have wanted us to retaliate.

it depends really on what side we are.  if we belong to the mean group, the kind that sows terror and horror, well maybeoffice purgatory we need some spritual revolution to jolt us out of the trap.  like quicksand which entices us to box our way up the corporate ladder, never mind who gets hurt.  but instead sucks us in, until we choke and drown into our own foolishness.  bear in mind that, however others may trick us into thinking otherwise,  it is always lonely at the top.

0c638b2af87abaaeand for those who are always put down and looked down, there is consolation in the fact that when you’re at the bottom, there is no way but up.  and there is joy in doing the task at hand, no matter how trivial it may seem.  if it’s done for the glory of God, then it must be worthy and significant.