Monday, November 21, 2016

Good vs. Faithful

The last few weeks have been challenging to say the least.  With the election results and a 25% layoff of my company, it's been a horrible blur and fog in my world.  Thankfully I was spared and still have my job, though many, many others do not.  And they lost that job the day after the election.

My woes of life aren't comparable to others who are dealing with life-threatening illnesses or other struggles of life in a broken world.  Yet to each of us, our world can seem hopeless no matter the gradation of our problems.

I've been thinking a lot about how Christians will say "God has been so faithful" when they get word I've kept my job, or someone's illness is cured, or whatever problem previously happening vanishes.  Somehow, though I know that is true, I don't feel it completely accurate.  Yes, God is faithful.  He was, is, and will be.  No matter the outcome.  God would have still been faithful if I lost my job.  I prefer to say God is so good to protect me from losing my job.

One of my pet peeves is how many single women praise the Lord from the mountaintop as long as they have a significant other in their life.  Then, the moment that status changes, "Woe is me" is the lamentation.  It's as if God fell off His Throne.  Yet, God remains faithful even when we - heaven forbid! - are single.  God is good to us to give us the blessings we have far beyond what we deserve.

A few years ago, I had a women's ministry college intern, Jessica.  I loved her heart for the Lord and she shared a story with me from her home church that has stuck with me all these years.  A sweet lady at her church was celebrating her husband's soon-to-come retirement and how they planned to have a cabin in Gatlinburg where they could minister to others.  Three months after his retirement, he died suddenly of a heart attack.  When Jessica talked with this sweet, godly lady about how she could go on, knowing that her husband's life was ended just as they were about to start a new chapter serving the Lord, she said, "You know what, Jessica.  God is always right."  I love that.  No matter what happens, God is always right.  

In this season of Thanksgiving, we focus on that which we are grateful.  I want my gratitude to be overflowing for the One that is good, faithful...and right.  Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Chipotle vs. Qdoba

From the moment Qdoba made its debut in my town, I've been a believer.  It was my go-to place and I would crave it periodically.  This past summer, their arch rival, Chipotle, did a summer promotion that one of my employees participated in to earn us free catering at the office.  In an effort to help him achieve the bazillion burritos he needed to eat over the course of three months, some of us helped by using his rewards card and visiting Chipotle.

Although I felt like a traitor walking into the restaurant, I have to say I really liked their food.  This caused me to ponder about my newfound love of Chipotle and my obvious betrayal of Qdoba.  Why did I like one more than the other?  And if I could do a pros and cons, who would win?

Chipotle's pros are fresh ingredients.  I honestly "feel" better after eating Chipotle and not so blech as I do often with Qdoba.  The food is cheaper at Chipotle (at least what I get) than for the same thing at Qdoba.  And Chipotle has Coke Zero, so that's a win.

On the con side, Chipotle's chips are stored in a bag pre-scooped.  Ick.  They just don't maintain that same freshness as the chips freshly scooped at Qdoba.  The atmosphere at Chipotle leaves something to be desired.  I definitely don't find dining in there pleasing at all.  It's like a warehouse break room or a take off on a steam punk casual dining establishment.  To go orders are my preference at Chipotle.

Qdoba, being my first love, has a lot more variety on their menu...plus queso, which is sorely missing at Chipotle.  They have Coke Zero and 100 other options with their Coke Freestyle machine, which is a positive.  Qdoba's chips are fresh and often even warm making everything yummier when scooped up with a warm tortilla chip.  And dining in there is a much more pleasant experience than at Chipotle.  

The cons for Qdoba are their prices - slightly higher - and the food - not counting the chips - isn't as fresh.  Overall, though they are reinventing themselves regularly with new offerings so they do move further away from a direct competitor - or a mirrored competitor with Chipotle.

The jury is still out.  I like them both for different reasons.  I suppose I need to create a Qupotle restaurant and everyone is happy.  

Monday, October 31, 2016

Podcasting...Again

Photo Cred: What Should I Read Next?
Back in August, I had the privilege of being a guest on What Should I Read Next podcast.  It was like a dream come true!  I've always wanted to have my own radio show, and in the 21st century, being a guest on a podcast is the next best thing.

Think of my excitement when I was approached to be one of the folks on a follow-up episode about What DID I Read Next?  Clips from my original episode were included and then I shared what I had read next and what was still on my list.

Anne Bogel, the host of this podcast, did an excellent job of picking titles for me and though I've only read one so far, I loved it.  Two more are on my list from Anne, but the reader response was overwhelming.  Literally hundreds of suggestions came through comments from readers on Anne's blog and Instagram.  I'm set for life for books to read, as if I wasn't already.  

If you haven't listened to the original episode, you can do so here.  And then you can list to the follow-up here.  Happy listening...and reading!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Designated Survivor

I don't watch a ton of TV and most of the time my TV is on to make noise while I'm piddling and working around the house or getting ready in the morning. But, I do try and watch one or two new shows each season to see if they're worthy of following.  One of those this season is Designated Survivor.  It stars Kiefer Sutherland (pardon me while I swoon) and, no, it isn't just a remake of 24.

Kiefer Sutherland is the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and is chosen as the designated survivor to be sequestered during the State of the Union address in the unlikely event a tragedy occurs and the government leadership is wiped out.  The show's Pilot involves a bombing at the Capitol and the need for Kiefer to be sworn in as President of the United States.

I'm only two episodes in, but the story is riveting, and quite ironic in its applicability to today's presidential landscape.  Kiefer's character assumes a role he really isn't prepared for, but serves out in the best way possible.  His humility in this role as his life changes in a blink of an eye is commendable.  I get this is fiction, but it sure is refreshing.  

It's an understatement to say I'm beyond disappointed in this year's presidential election.  Neither candidate is someone I want running the free world.  I was quickly reminded of this when in the first 30 minutes of the Designated Survivor becoming POTUS, he was given the instructions on how to launch all nuclear weapons operated by the US.  Frightening.

I try and avoid political debates on social media.  That's why I'm writing this blog.  I can't handle the constant bickering in my social feeds.  It's exhausting.  So I'm keeping my most passionate comments here.

When I fill in the bubble to vote for our next president, I can't, with good conscience vote for either of the two leading candidates.  I can't. Don't try and persuade me, it won't change.  Hilary's complete disregard of human life - her pro-choice stand and her Benghazi behavior - doesn't give me comfort.  Yes, it would be tremendous to have a female president, but is she the role model I want?  Absolutely not.  You continue to tolerate your husband's fornication all for the sake of maybe becoming President yourself.  Have you no more regard for yourself than that?  It's sad...and troubling.  

Trump is a whole other issue.  Take away his recent "locker-room talk" scandal and other female encounters that have come about, he turns my stomach.  His narcissistic, prideful attitude is not appropriate for the Oval Office.  I'm a conservative Christian and many stand behind him because of his potential Supreme Court Justice appointment.  I have zero faith in his keeping that promise since I've not really seen any consistency in his campaign...other than narcissistic pride.  I didn't vote for Obama, so take this statement from that perspective.  Obama has more class in his pinkie finger than Trump has in his whole body.  

In some ways, I wish we could designate a President somehow, but that would only come if neither major party gets the majority and it goes to Congress.  It's times like these I miss my Dad so much.  I'd love to hear this take on this.  But, if I could talk to him now, he'd say, "I'm sure glad I'm not on earth anymore for a lot of reasons you don't understand yet, but this election is another reason."  

I'm not sure who'll I'll vote for come November 8, but I will vote.  It won't be Trump or Clinton, but someone else with a chance, albeit slight.  I'm voting because I have that right.  The right as a woman I've only had a short time in light of history and the right many people fought for my freedom to have.  I'm not going to "pull the lever" for someone who I can't respect.  

Friday, September 30, 2016

Breaking Out

This week has been one for the record books.  As Dickens once said, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."  The worst times occurred on Monday when I got news my boss was leaving.  I've had tons of bosses in my lifetime.  Some were great, some were not.  But this one was great, so personally I'm super sad.  Professionally, as they say on Broadway, the show must go on.  With that news, the week brought its own stressors, and the jockeying for position when this sort of thing happens - which has happened many times in my work life.  To add to the week, Thursday was the anniversary of my Mom's death.  Sixteen years ago I lost the woman who waited 18 long years for me, loved me, nurtured me and was my best friend.  I could have used an hour or 100 with her this week.

The best of times occurred because I turned another year older and felt the love from many friends far and wide.  Last year was my golden jubilee, so this was just a normal birthday year, but that little blip of love in the middle of the week was so needed.  Also in the midst of the worst was a great time on Thursday with my entire office enjoying some time away playing a competitive game of escape room.

If you haven't heard of this new gaming phenomenon, you go to a location and a team of people (up to 8) are locked in a room with a backstory.  Based on clues they have in the room, they have 1 hour to "break out."  Our office broke down into 3 teams participating in a Casino Royale, Museum Heist, and Island Escape.  My team did Island Escape.  If you like solving puzzles, cryptic riddles and mysteries, this game is for you.

The game starts with a short video and then once the timer starts you begin searching the room for clues.  There are multiple things locked with combination locks - both number and letter - and key locks.  Getting access to all of those is vital to getting out of the room.  To explain how we did it is way too complex.  I envy those that write these games because the detail is amazing.  We had exploding volcanoes with clues, maps that dropped things out, constellations on the wall, a black light flashlight, and special glasses to read computer screens.  It was a blast!

Our team broke out!  And did it in 53 minutes.  Sadly, the other two teams didn't break out, so at the hour mark, they were released.  I'm ready to take on the challenge of the other rooms and be able to say I broke out of all of them.  

In the midst of good and bad times, I'm grateful for things like escaping locked rooms to distract me from the harsh realities of life.