Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 Milestones

As another year nears close to the end, it's time for me to reflect on the past year with my observations. I feel like I said "Happy 2012!", blinked and it was almost 2013. This is that feeling your parents told you about "when you get older" you'd understand. For this year's recap review, I thought I'd highlight a few milestones from the year....

I joined a new Bible study class this year that I love  - For those of you who grew up in the church, you've heard of Sunday School. Today it's called ABF (Adult Bible Fellowship) or at our church BFG (Bible Fellowship Group). Whatever you call it, I joined a new one this year. I had been praying for a long time to find the small group where I would feel connected to our larger church and this was  truly an answer to prayer. I serve at my church in a lot of ways, but needed that place where I belonged like every other church member. And God led me to it. It's a great ladies' class full of sweet women from all walks of life that, no matter where their journey has taken them, they praise The Lord. I am on a team of rotating teachers and I have an opportunity to do one if the things I love - teach. This was definitely a blessing from the year,

I saw 6 theatrical productions this year - I love the theater....the live, on stage version. If I could afford it, I would go to the theater every weekend somewhere. I saw 3 Broadway shows that came to Louisville - Mary Poppins, Wicked, and Beauty and the Beast.  And I saw 3 dinner theater productions - Dixie Swim Club, Annie, and Church Basement Ladies 2. That's one every other month, folks.  It will be hard to beat that record in 2013.

I drank the Apple juice and went to the dark side - After winning an iPad at work, I was so in love that I not only left my long-term love of Android, but my 14-year relationship with T-Mobile. I moved to AT&T to get an iPhone. It's clear why Apple is so successful....their technology just works. It's like comparing a Chevrolet to a Honda. Both can get you where you need to go, but the Honda is a whole lot more reliable and longer lasting.

I wrote 30 blog posts in 30 days - I've been blogging since 2005, soon to be 8 years. I'd always wanted to participate in the 30-day writing challenge, but always had one excuse or another. Tis year, even with my amazingly busy schedule, I decided in November to take the challenge on...and I succeeded. It was a good exercise in discipline and focused me to think about topics daily to pontificate about.  And it was a good diversion to the rest of my busy life.

I manage the most people I have ever managed in my career - Right now, I manage 13 people, soon to be 14. I list this as a milestone, not to be prideful, but to be reminded to be humble, to be constantly aware of the responsibility of leadership I've been given. This became clear when I read a yearly recap from two years ago and my team was one-fifth that size. God has brought me through some interesting days over the past two years and I pray He continues to lead me to be the servant leader He's called me to be.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

First a Father, Second a President

People who know me best, know that there isn't a lot of things I agree with that our President stands for.  But given recent events, there is something I see in him that I admire.  

From the beginning of his presidency, his two daughters - Malia (14) and Sasha (11) - have not been much in the spotlight.  I remember children of past presidents - Amy Carter, Chelsea Clinton, The Bush Twins - during their lives at the White House being spotlighted on a regular basis.  It occurred to me during the last election how sheltered Malia and Sasha have been over the course of his first term.  I can only attribute that to the parental edicts and protection Barack and Michelle have made clear to the press and staff at the White House that they not be out front in the media.  Aside from some pictures around the holidays, and a report of them visiting a book store on Black Friday with their Dad, I wouldn't recognize them quickly because they aren't front and center.  A great testament to their role as parents living in the public eye.

Last Friday the country was rocked by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.  Children as young as 6 were brutally murdered by a 20-year old shooter who entered the school on a rampage.  As the President addressed the nation shortly after the incident, I saw for the first time a man whose core had been shaken.  He was moved emotionally and I can't help but believe his heart was speaking not only as our President, but first as a Father.  It was the first time in his Presidency, I saw his emotions come out.  And, I couldn't help but reflect back to how his role as Father surely being priority in his life based on the lives of his daughters.

There are many arguments behind what can be done to avoid these tragedies in the future - from gun control to mental health assistance.  Mr. President, I plead with you to go to the Scripture you quoted the day of this tragedy and seek that which will guide your decisions.  Beyond the guns...beyond the mental health challenges....there lies the most important foundational basic....the sanctity of human life.  We weep over the loss of these precious young ones - many as young as six.  Yet, 7 years ago, if the mother carrying these young ones wanted to, she could have ended their lives, with the world praising her ability to choose.  Mr. President, may we begin to cherish and recognize life from the moment of conception and turn our country toward the basic truth - Life is a precious gift.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Lessons Learned from a Football Coach

This morning Charlie Strong, Head Coach of the University of Louisville football team, officially announced he was staying as coach here in Louisville.  The sporting news has been all abuzz about the courting Charlie has received of late from the likes of legendary football schools (i.e. Tennessee).  As I listened to his press conference this morning, I have to say, I love me some Charlie Strong.  Whether you bleed blue or red in this state, you can't help but see the quality that is there.  And so, as I often do, I wanted to share the lessons I learned...

1.  It matters who you work for - Charlie sang the praises of Tom Jurich, Athletic Director of the University of Louisville, for being an amazing man to work under.  Back when Louisville was 9-10, Tom extended Charlie's contract because he believed in him.  He's not forgotten that.  And although this contract extension could place Charlie in the top of the ranks in football coaches' pay scale, the final contractual agreement hasn't been discussed.  But, Charlie knows it will be fair.  Often times when we are lured by a bigger and better offer, we don't consider the current situation we're in.  Charlie has.  He knows Tom believes in him and that matters more than coaching for a legendary SEC team.

2.  Family comes first - Charlie said it had been a tough week with him being approached by Tennessee and contemplating the decision about his future.  He said he talked to his daughters and they emphatically said, "Dad, we don't want to leave Louisville." He said, by far, this was the deciding factor.  I remember when I was very young, my Dad was approached to take a position with his company in Pedricktown, NJ.  It would have placed him as Plant Manager, in a position to fix a very broken plant location.  After a few visits up there to help out, my Dad had to make a decision.  My Mom didn't want to move from Louisville because her Mom was here and she loved it here.  The cost of living was incredibly high in New Jersey at that time, and unemployment there was on the rise.  Dad knew moving there might get him a short-term win, but long-term it wasn't a good move for him or our family.  I'm thankful that advancement didn't win over family in that decision.  And one day, those Strong girls will say the same thing.

3.  Finish what you started - One of the things Charlie pointed out that made leaving Louisville difficult was that he felt like he hadn't taken the team all the way to where he'd hope to go with them.  He's definitely made great strides with this team in the short time he's been here with this year being invited to a BCS bowl.  But, in his heart, he wants to see a National Championship for Louisville Football.  We live in a world of people who don't finish well.  It's way too easy to throw in the towel and move on than fight the good fight.  I hang with most situations to the bitter end...sometimes to my own detriment.  But I'm not a quitter and I never want to give up.  The world could learn from Charlie that just because a prestigious position at a top school is dangled in front of you doesn't mean your work is complete where you are.  

You could read my post and be thinking, "Right, Rose, I'm sure the increase in pay had nothing to do with Charlie's decision."  I'm not blind to the fact that a significant increase in pay has an impact here.  But, if that was the only reason, I'm sure Tennessee would have matched or beaten his price if he played that game.  And he didn't.  I, for one, am glad Charlie is sticking around.  Well played, Mr. Strong, well played.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Five Minutes: Wonder

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word to write about for five minutes. No editing, stream of consciousness. Today's word is: Wonder.

Ready. Set. Write.

I'm a daydreamer.  If I allow myself, I can walk into the world of wonder at any given moment of my day.  It seems my mind goes a million miles an hour all the time...even when I awake in the middle of the night.  I like to dream.  I like to wonder.

I like to wonder what exciting things are to come.  Oh there are times when I wonder about the negative things that may happen but I try not to focus on that so much.  I wonder about the big things....like will I marry one day and wonder what that will be like?  I wonder what my job will look like in a year...in five.  I wonder what my next exciting adventure will be.  And this time of year I seem to wonder more about a fresh, new year and all that new beginnings promise.

Sometimes I think I wonder too much.  I live in Rose's Wonderland and not enough in Rose's Reality.  I've shared with many a woman in my life the wonder of what I call my false hope garden.  That garden of hope that I can go into behind the gate, smell the beautiful flowers...find a place on the garden bench and dream of a love to come.  It's good to dream...as long as you remember to come back to the reality of today.  My looking glass...my wardrobe...it's my garden of hope.  And I doubt I'll ever be too old to wonder.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Confessions of a Starbucks Addict

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.  I am addicted to Starbucks.  Now, I don't get the shakes or find myself in a dark alley making deals for loaded Starbucks cards, but I have to admit it is a weakness of mine.  I am fully convinced that there will be a Starbucks in Heaven that will be calorie free.  There is no sleep in Heaven, so hence, why caffeine won't be a problem.  

As part of my confession, I think I'll share a few insights into my addiction...

...My drink of choice, if I was to pick only one, would be a white mocha, non-fat,  with whip.  Don't judge me for the whip.  A girl has got to have some creamy goodness in her life.  

...I enjoy a Tea Misto, which isn't an obvious choice on the menu.  But having many a past Barista in my friend circles, I discovered this drink of tea and milk.  Warning:  You can't drink the Wild Orange tea as a Tea Misto...the acid curdles the milk.

...On occasion I enjoy a Chai Tea Latte.  This love was discovered when not all teas work well with the Misto.  Only like them hot, not iced, so this refreshment isn't a sure thing all year for me.

...When the weather outside is warmful, I'll take a white mocha frappie (us addicts use our own lingo) or an Iced version of the white mocha.  The trend here is....white mocha

...For all the hoopla people go through when the Pumpkin Spice Latte appears, it's love is lost on me.  I tried one for the first time this year and...ick.  Not for me.  But hey, I have other seasonal drinks to fulfill my addiction.  Let's say, the Peppermint Mocha for example.

...I'll try most any coffee from Starbucks from the mild to the bold.  Another sure sign you have an addict on your hands.

...The cake pops and other sweet delicacies just add to the addiction.  

I suppose I should look for a 12-step program, but until my Pastor swears off Starbucks, I think I'm in good company.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Today a Blog, Tomorrow the World

It's day 28 of NaBloPoMo and I have to say it hasn't been as brutal as I first expected.  I've had to make the time to write a post, but given my newly-acquired iPad, that has made blogging on the fly much easier.  (Other than that niggly error I get the first try posting due to iOS 6)  

What I've learned from this last 28 days of blogging....

...I can write daily if I truly put my mind to it and commit.  

...coming up with blog post ideas can be challenging, but it's caused me to be more observant of my life and boiling that down into words

...in the words of my friend, Amy, I've only "cheated" once and posted a video.  I don't find that cheating, but for those keeping score, I'm still ahead

...I actually have more than 5 readers

My dream has always been to have a column.  Be the next Erma Bombeck, Dave Barry, or less political Peggy Noonan (she writes exquisitely!)  Now that I'm almost done with my 30-day challenge, if there are any takers out there looking for a curly-haired, funny columnist, let me know.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

You Missed a Stop on the Technology Train

For all those that own an iPhone or iPad, you are quite familiar with the screenshot feature.  You press your power button simultaneously with your Home button and voila!  A picture of your screen.  This information is vital in appreciating the humor that I'm about to unleash on you.

In my business, we provide online advertising for our clients.  Major B2B technology vendors buy ad space to rotate their branding message across our network of sites.  Along with the normal ads you see when you are surfing the internet, we also provide mobile advertising.  For example, ads that are sized to optimize for a smartphone or tablet.  

Yesterday we needed to grab screenshots for a client on their tablet campaign.  Since I didn't have my iPad at work, we had the Sales Rep use his iPad.  We thought this would be an easy task.  But when his support partner started getting the screenshots via email, they looked odd.  Apparently said Sales Rep was not privy to the screenshot feature on his iPad.  He was taking pictures of his tablet screen with his phone.  

Somebody missed a stop on the technology train.

Monday, November 26, 2012

These Things Come, But Once a Year

When Christmas time is here (cue the Charlie Brown music), there are treats that pop up that are only around for this short 6-10 week time period.  And, these are a few of my favorite things (channeling my inner Julie Andrews)...

1.  Starbucks Red Cups - I squeal with excitement when I get my first drink in a Red Cup.  This year, I took the country song "Red Solo Cup" and adapted it to fit my love for the Starbucks Red Cup.  "Proceed to party!"

2.  Candy Canes - Obviously peppermint candy is available all year long, but not in the curvy cane style.  None of those fake rainbow imitations.  Blech.  Give me the pure peppermint goodness of a candy cane.  I may, when in the right mood, enjoy a cinnamon candy cane.  

3.  Boiled Custard - My Mom turned me on to this yummy drink long ago and when I sip it now, I always think of her...and wish we could share a cup together.  I'm not an egg nog fan.  Not sure why, but it's not full of the creamy goodness that boiled custard has.  I have a homemade boiled custard recipe from my Granny that one day, when I get brave, I need to try.

4.  Reese Christmas Trees -  Oh my cow these are amazing!! Reese Easter Eggs are my favorites at that time of year.  They contain just the right blend of chocolate and peanut butter.  But these trees definitely come close.  I will forewarn the world that these could be the death of me they are so delicious.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Undercover Boss

With a four-day, relaxing weekend, I've had the chance to catch some shows I've never seen before.  Yesterday TLC had a marathon of the show Undercover Boss.  The premise of the show is a top executive of a large corporation goes "undercover" to see what it's like on the front lines with the employees.  It's a great concept and it captivated me during the one episode I watched.

The co-owner of White Castle went undercover at various restaurant locations and even worked the line at the location that packages the frozen sliders. He met a wide variety of employees. One woman he met works because her husband is on disability and she is trying to lose weight to maintain good health. One young Hispanic man who wanted to go to culinary school but his parents weren't supportive. He was working to save money for college.  At a break, he shared his homemade salsa with the boss and the boss realized what a passion this was for the young man. Another worker had a young blind son and was the epitome of a future leader. Always had a great attitude and was top notch in customer service.  All of these people made a huge impact on the boss.

When the reveal came and they learned his true identity, they were shocked. But the reaction from them and what he did for them was amazing. The woman with the husband on disability was tasked to help start a wellness program for employees. The aspiring culinary worker was given a scholarship to further his education. And the father with the young blind son...he was tasked to write curriculum for a new training program to groom workers for leadership. Along with that, a $5000 trust was started to help his son's education.

I was so moved by this episode. But the icing on the cake was his final comment.  The boss said "I sit behind a desk making decisions based on numbers.  Now when I make those decisions, it won't be just based on numbers but on people...real people who make our business what it is today."  If every CEO had that perspective, think how much different corporate America would be.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Triptiks

Back before there were GPS systems and smartphone navigation apps, there were triptiks.  The local AAA office would provide these maps on steroids to their members when embarking on a road trip. Every time we took a vacation, my parents would go to AAA to get a triptik in preparation of our journey.

These maps were spiral bound and looked like a reporter's notebook. You would give the travel office your destination and they would take a green marker and page after page indicate your route. Each flip of the page got you closer to your destination and would unfold to give you more details along the route. The cool thing about a triptik is that it would mark any road closures or construction so you would be prepared for what was ahead. Granted, it didn't talk to you like a Garmin, but my Mom did a pretty good job verbalizing the instructions clearly for my Dad.

The great thing about having that green-marked flip map was you knew exactly what to expect from start to finish.  Where the slow downs would be, the road closures....the big things (aside from traffic) that you needed to be aware of to avoid. Triptiks are what we want from God. We want him to map out every journey we take from start to finish before we start. But God doesn't work that way. Why?  Because He wants us to trust Him. What is a journey with The Lord if you know all the obstacles and don't need to depend on Him?  It might be less turbulent but it's also less educational. On days when I miss that detailed map of my journey, I need to remember that God has already mapped out my life with His green marker and I just have to trust Him to bring me through the construction and detours along the way.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Christmas Clubs

When I was young, my Mom opened a Christmas Club account at our bank every January. The reason I remember this so vividly was the cute little "payment" book that came with opening the account with a cute picture of Santa on the front.

The purpose of this account (for those clueless of this activity) was to set aside a specific amount of money periodically throughout the year so that by the end of November, there was money set aside for Christmas shopping. The interest earned on this account was minimal at best but the goal was to be disciplined to save specifically for the biggest shopping season of the year.  Each little payment booklet had stubs to use when making your deposits. Mom explained to me that she and my Dad would decide how much money they wanted to have for the next Christmas, then decide what each payment needed to be.  She'd deposit this payment in a separate account that would accumulate until the end of that year's account when Mom would withdraw the money and start her shopping. It was like a layaway for money.

In this day and age of credit card debt, Black Friday madness, and the idol of materialism, the beautiful art of Christmas Club accounts has been lost.  In all my years, I never once saw my Mom stress over Christmas shopping bills.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I Am Thankful

For the last 3 years, I participated in the daily thankfulness challenge on Facebook.  The goal is to keep your focus during this season on what you are most thankful.  This year I decided not to participate.  Not because I'm not daily thankful but because I was beginning to make it routine and not sincere. This year, I've used this month to participate in NaBloPoMo and post a blog entry each day this month.  I'm amazed at how this exercise wasn't as difficult as I'd first thought.

But today, the day of Thanksgiving, my post will highlight just a pinch of the things I'm thankful for. I could post for eternity for all I'm thankful for and my daily prayer time always includes a time of thankfulness. That time each day is worth more then 10 million Facebook posts. So here is my list...off the top of my head...most definitely not all-inclusive...

I am thankful for...

- A hope beyond the grave that God provided for me through His Son.  Hope is something I could not live without and this eternal assurance of living with Him is the best hope of all.
- My job. For all its chaos and stress, I'm grateful to have a job I love when so many have no job, much less one they enjoy.
- The best friends a girl could ever have. I have a very small family and my friends are more like family than I can express. I couldn't live without them.
- The most amazing team at work on the planet and awesome co-workers. My team never ceases to amaze me in their diligence and I'm so grateful for their dedication. Along with them, I work with some pretty cool people. It makes being in corporate chaos much more manageable.
- A home that I love. The Red Rose Inn is a blessing from God and has provided a place of refuge and respite for people that need good fellowship.
- Top-notch health insurance. Another plus with my job is very good health coverage that is completely funded by my employer. Like my job, many don't have health coverage, of which I couldn't live without and I am blessed and oh so grateful for the benefit.
- A church and church family that is so precious to me. Outside of work, I probably spend the majority of my time at church or with friends I have thru church. I'm blessed to attend a church that preaches and teaches the truth and loves people so fervently.
- My health. Even with all of the health challenges I have, I am grateful that I am able to live a full life. My health becomes even more a blessing when I see others around me suffering with so much more serious health issues.
- Technology that allows me to stay connected with friends near and far. I'm especially thankful that I can stay in touch with my friend, Regina, who lives across the ocean in East Asia. She is so special to me and thanks to technology we can remain close.
- For every day I have breath to give thanks. May no day go by that I don't thank God for all that I have that I so don't deserve.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Young Love

Preschoolers are some of my favorite people - especially 3 and 4 year olds.  One of my favorites is Leah Mae.  Her parents, Philip and Chanda, are sweet friends of mine, and Leah is just precious.  She has her Momma's beautiful curly hair and her Daddy's exuberance.  Philip and Chanda are good friends with Ryan and Kelly who have 3 little ones of their own, the oldest being Reuben - Leah's pal.  Though he's a couple of years younger than her, you can find her and "Roo" together a lot.

This past Sunday night after church, they all joined our normal crowd at Culver's.  Leah walked in with a single red rose.  One of our single guys, Scott, brought roses for some of the ladies, and Leah always scores one.  As she sat by Reuben at the table holding her red rose, our conversation went like this...

Me:  Did Scott give you that rose, Leah?
Leah:  Yep!
Me:  Is Scott your boyfriend?
Leah:  No, Reuben is my boyfriend!
Me:  Hey Reuben, are you Leah's boyfriend?
Reuben:  (blank stare and silence)

Leah, men never change.  You might see if Scott will hold out for you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Positivity Poster

Life is full of negativity.  And in the workplace, it runs rampant.  In Corporate America USA, which is no different at my corporate job, it's hard to keep a happy outlook when you are wearing 10 hats and doing the job of 5 people.  In an effort to thwart this thought process, behold, the Positivity Poster.

One of my employees, Stephanie, is the cheerleader coach for one of the most successful high school athletic teams in the county, Trinity.  She brings the happy face in the office all the time, but even the head cheerleader can get discouraged.  So, she decided to break the pattern and begin a positivity poster campaign.  The day she posted it, we were all given a sheet of white labels and told we needed to post a minimum of one positive thing a week.  My first contribution was "Caramel Apple Pops" which I ordered for my team.  They make us smile.

Ashley, aka Sparkles as she is known by the guys in our cube farm, did the decorative lettering.  But her first attempt at placement had the "P" in the "Positivity" a little too close to the "P" in "Poster."  Patrick, our resident comedian, had posted the first label - which was "Who-Dey" and a sketch of a cat.  His cat is named after the Cincinnati Bengals mascot.  And he said "Who-Dey makes me feel positive."  I complimented him on being the first to post on the Positivity Poster (in an effort to stay positive!) and he said, "Oh, the Ositivity Pa-Poster?"  He was pointing out the misplacement of "P"s by Sparkles.  Only in my office.

Do you need to spark up your work life?  Create a Positivity Poster!  And if you need a little humor, turn it into an Ositivity Pa-Poster!

Monday, November 19, 2012

One Year Later and Two Deer Alerts Added

It was a year ago this past weekend that I came bumper to antlers with a deer. I wish I could be dramatic and say "It was a dark and stormy night" but it was only dark, and not stormy...just freezing cold.  

I was heading home from my friend, Beth's, house after a long overdue girl time to catch up on life.  She lives merely minutes from my home, and the late hour didn't disturb me since I'd be home in no time.  As I traveled down the two-lane road to my house, little Miss Deer, probably running from Big Bad Mr. Deer who wanted her affections, came trotting beside my Bluebelle car.  I slowed down (which was providential), hoping she'd dart on across.  Instead, she got jumpy and ran right into my right bumper, causing her to fly in the air and spin down the middle of the road.

Jumpy is not the word to describe how I felt.  And after a year later, I can still see that deer's face and her spinning out of control down the road.  I've found myself since that time jumping at anything I see out of the corner of my eye that could be assumed to be an animal running towards my vehicle.  It definitely left me shell-shocked.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a dead deer lying on the side of the road near my house.  It brought back all those memories from last deer season when I encountered my poor Bambi.  I swore last year that once I got my car fixed, I would buy deer alerts to put on my car so this wouldn't happen again.  Sadly, I didn't do it, but after seeing that poor dead deer, I high-tailed it to the parts store toot sweet to buy a pair for my car.  My Dad traveled the state of Kentucky for five years down all the nooks and crannies of the back roads and not once hit a deer.  Why?  Not because he didn't see them, because he did.  But because he had deer alerts on his car.  It would stop them in their tracks...and not dead in their tracks.

Beth's amazing husband, Kelly, put my deer alerts on my car for me, and I am driving down the roads today with less jumpiness and nervousness at a random Bambi appearing in my path.  I sure don't want to kill some little deer's Mom or Dad.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Is Falling in Love a Myth?

I recently had a conversation with some friends about love...finding the one you will spend the rest of your life with.  One of the participants - a man who will remain nameless to protect his identity - said he did not believe in "falling in love" which made the bristles of this romantic soul rise.

Though he did believe in a spark, he wasn't a believer in "falling in love."  What really does that mean?   And where did it come from?  My research came up somewhat inconclusive, though its first usage was recorded as a colloquial phrase on 1423.  I love the idea of "falling" for someone.  That helpless feeling of having no control and just going with the soaring emotions welling up inside you.  Being a lover or origins, though, it concerned me that there wasn't some beautiful story about two star-crossed lovers from the Middle Ages where the woman was about to fall off a cliff after losing her supposed only love when her true soul mate caught her and not only saved her life, but she "fell" in his love.  Now that's the origin I was looking for.

After further searching, I found a disturbing possible origin of the phrase.  One person associated it with the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve "fell" due to their love of self-wisdom and not in love with their Creator who provided them a perfect place to dwell.  Gee thanks, Adam and Eve.

Falling in love may not be an accurate description of the rising feeling of love, so I may be more careful in its usage.  But I refuse to abandon using "I'm head over heels in love."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

An Apple For the Teacher

I love to teach. When I was young I thought one day I would become a teacher. Although I'm not officially a teacher, I feel like I teach/coach/mentor daily.  And I get the privilege to teach a ladies' Bible study class at my church which I love.

The reason I believe I had the desire to teach was because I had some great teachers in school. To name them all would be impossible, but here are just a few examples...

Ms. Baker - My first grade teacher.  She was beautimous.  I wanted to grow up and look just like her. She was sweet and precious and my first encounter with a teacher for more than 3 hours a day.

Mrs, Kreutzman - My third grade teacher.  She was bubbly, fun and had a laugh that wouldn't quit.  She also taught me how to "skin a cat"...when my jacket's zipper got stuck, she pulled it off over my head.  She taught me how to problem solve.

Mrs. Saylor - My fifth and sixth grade teacher.  I loved her and was thrilled I ended up with her for two years.  She was funny and played four square with us.  She taught me that you are never too old to do anything.

Miss Leonard - My seventh and eight grade teacher. She was a sassy redhead and single.  She made it clear she wanted to be married but hadn't found the right man yet.  She used all sorts of creative teaching methods with us and wasn't afraid to fail and be honest with us about it.  She taught me that life is fun no matter single or married.

I could go on, but maybe for another day.  For all my friends who are teachers and you think you are making no impact. Think again.  Years later , I'm still benefitting from the lessons of those amazing teachers.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Five Minutes: Stay

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word to write about for five minutes. No editing, stream of consciousness. Today's word is: Stay.

Ready. Set. Write.


When I hear this word, the first thing that comes to mind is the song by The Chantels that was featured in Dirty Dancing, "Stay."  The lyrics say "Oh won't you stay...just a little bit longer...please, please, please...tell me you're going to."

I love those moments that we wish would never end....and just stay.  Years ago, one of my friends said "I wish I could have a 'pause' button on life and be able to stop life during the amazingly good times."  I would have to agree that there are times when life is so blissfully fun and joyful you just want to stop time.  

But then there are those times when we are frantically searching for the fast forward button.  Get me past this chaos!  Or, we spend too much time rewinding (I'm guilty of this) and reflecting on "those good ole days" times when life was simpler and less chaotic.  


Since we have no "action" buttons on life, I'll just be content to Stay where I am and enjoy every moment.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Table Topic: Dirty Santa

It's that time of year when the holiday festivities kick up and we will be eating constantly and attending parties until 2013.  Part of the fun of the Christmas season are all those crazy gag gift exchange parties.  Some may call them White Elephant, others Dirty Santa...no matter the moniker, they provide some pretty funny Fa-La-La fodder.  

You want a Dirty Santa Soiree to include some good with the gag.  Otherwise, the trading back and forth isn't going to happen.  At the parties I've attended, numbers are drawn and #1 chooses first.  When #2 chooses a gift, they can steal #1's gift or pick from the pile.  In most cases, I've been under a "3-steal limit" which makes it even more fun.  But if all the gifts are gags, nobody is going to steal anything and make the game competitive and exciting.

I've been stuck with some real winners in my day.  The most recent was probably Gerald, the Sock Reindeer.  Honestly, he was pretty darn cute.  One of the best gag gifts ever was from a party quite a few years back.  The bag was kept in the freezer until it was time for the game, which was clue #1 that it wasn't something you should choose.  After the game had come to an end, and all good gifts had been stolen, one of the party goers took the bullet and took the gift.  It was frozen pig feet.  Priceless.  That by far has been the best gag gift ever.

So, today's Table Topic....What's the best/worst gag gift you've ever received?

Pick a number and discuss

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

After revealing my "pin-up girl" status a few months ago, I wanted to share some of the wins I've had using the Pinterest ideas I've found.  I've made a few things and will try and post as I have success and thought I'd start with the extremely yummy Peanut Butter Cup Brownies.  Here is a picture of the final product...which I'm pretty proud of...followed by the recipe...


1 box of your favorite brownie mix
1/2 cup of peanut butter chips
1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used sugar-free milk chocolate chips)
3/4 cup of creamy peanut butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease 40 mini-muffin cups.  I used regular muffin pans.  It makes less brownies, but bigger ones!

Prepare boxed brownie mix as directed. Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups (about 1 heaping teaspoon). Bake for 13-15 minutes or until top is set and a toothpick inserted into center comes out slightly wet. After brownies are out of the oven, wait for centers to fall. This will happen upon cooling. If not then tap the centers with the back of a teaspoon to make a hole for the peanut butter.

Place peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 45 seconds then stir. While brownies are still warm spoon about half a teaspoon of peanut butter into the center of each brownie. Top with chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Cool completely in pan.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Demise of Integrity

The news is flooded with the latest scandal involving ex-CIA Director, David Petraeus' affair with Paula Broadwell.  More scandalous news has been added to the mix today as a love triangle with Jill Kelley and inappropriate email communications with General John Allen, the top U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, have now surfaced.  Our protectors of the free world have turned into characters on Peyton Place.

You can spend your time debating on whether this was a governmental cover-up to avoid the truth about the Libyan attack on the US Embassy, or that this news was held ransom by an incumbent president wanting to be re-elected, but let's not get tangled up in the politics of it all and just come face-to-face with the real issue here.  Integrity is slowly dying from the face of humanity.

Integrity is defined as "The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness."  It saddens me that top leaders of our nation take this commitment so lightly and seem to simply disregard the position they hold.    The responsibility of guarding the secrets of the strongest country in the world should be treated as such, not in the flippant manor that this latest debacle reveals.  

Both Petraeus and Broadwell are US Military Academy graduates.  Cut from the same cloth.  They walked the hills of West Point and were to live up to the high degree of ethics outlined by the Cadet Honor Code...a simple statement that says so much, "A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."  It appears that this code of honor was lost on these two former cadets.  Allen, a graduate of the US Naval Academy, was guided by a similar code, known as the Honor Concept, which has as its first line, "Midshipmen are persons of integrity: We stand for that which is right."  Seems like General Allen slipped a bit, if the latest reports are correct.  The honor of an oath is lost in today's society.  A commitment that is made is easily broken.  We live in a society where integrity isn't applauded...it's looked upon as unique behavior.  

Oaths and vocational commitments aside, there is a forgotten group of people in this latest scandal that are in the shadows, but clearly impacted - Holly Petraeus, Scott Broadwell, Kathy Allen, and Scott Kelley - the spouses of the four folks involved in this scandal.  Higher than any other commitment or oath that was taken was a commitment made one day in the lives of these four couples; a commitment at an altar to remain faithful to each other in marriage until death parts them.  We take those commitments so lightly in today's society.  The sacred covenant of marriage, meant to be a picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is tarnished and torn.  I grieve most for the marriages that will be severed or severely damaged due to the uncontrollable actions of the accused.

The truth of the matter is we all are just one step away from a similar situation if we were to allow ourselves the liberty.  That is why this latest scandal should not bring us to sling accusations as to why it wasn't brought up sooner, or how the government manipulated this to protect an election outcome.  The issue goes so much deeper.  This event should serve as a wake-up call to all of us to live a life of integrity, walking in truth, lest we fall in the same trap that these four leaders did.  An impossible task without the accountability of a fellow brother or sister by your side, or, more importantly, without God as the center of all you do.  May we all live with our eyes fixed on Christ and save the final nail being hammered into the coffin of integrity.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Return of Ironman

May 3, 2013....He returns....I'm beyond geeked about this event...


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Top Five Reasons I Love My Church

I love my church.  I could list many more than five reasons, but here are the reasons that come to mind today...right after a Sunday morning of worship...

5.  My church teaches and preaches the Word of God unapologetically.  So many churches today compromise the supreme authority of God's Word but thankfully, my church's leadership doesn't waver.  Seems like it should be a "given" in most churches, but sadly it isn't.

4.  We love children and I have a privilege to serve in a small way.  Our church is never short on toddlers and little ones, and as our Pastor says "they all have a soul that will never die."  I serve at the Preschool Desk each week and get to greet all the families that check in, especially the visiting ones.  Nothing says "life" like a lobby all a flurry with a ba-zillion children under the age of 10.

3.  I have the best Sunday morning Bible study class.  It may be called Sunday School, or ABF (Adult Bible Fellowship), or in our case BFG (Bible Fellowship Group).  Whatever you call it, mine rocks.  Jaylynn, our Pastor's wife, is the director of this ladies' class and we have a blast.  I describe our class as the class for any lady whose life didn't turn out exactly as they planned, but we praise The Lord for where He's brought us.  Today I had the privilege to teach, which I love, followed by a potluck chili lunch.  We used our time together to fill our Operation Christmas Child boxes and our little class of ladies filled 20 boxes.   And Jaylynn was in rare form today...she walked in with an almost completely empty 2-liter of Coke Zero....you can picture the energy level even if you don't know her.  If you do, enough said.

2.  Our Worship Pastor rocks...literally.  Barry Joslin may dream of playing electric guitar in Journey, but he riffs quite often during worship.  He and the worship team and praise band put in long hours of practice and get to church long before anyone else does...and it shows.  The music portion of our services simply set up our Pastor beautifully to preach the Word.

1.  Our Pastor can talk about substitutionary atonement and "smokin' the weed" all in the same sermon.  He's intelligent yet down to earth.  Knowing he and his wife, Jaylynn, like I do, I see how real he is and that makes listening him preach from his heart so very special.  And I love the way he loves and adores Jaylynn. To see a man love a sweet, strong-willed woman like he does, leading her, encourages this strong-willed single woman that there are men who can lead me.  Our church is blessed.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Us Two

I've been a Winnie the Pooh fan my whole life.  A quick look around my social media profiles and you'll figure that out pretty quick.  As a little girl, to go to sleep (which was very difficult as a child, extremely easy now) I would listen to Disney story albums.  For those youngsters in the crowd, these circular pieces of plastic would spin and play music and tell stories.  Think of it as a very big iPod.  One of my favorite albums was Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree.  Poor Pooh would get stuck every time trying to get to the honey.  I believe my Mom had it memorized.

To this day I still love Pooh.  I have books of quotes that my Mom gave me and the simple wisdom of that silly ole bear is priceless.  As I was surfing the Internet, I came across one of the poems A. A. Milne wrote about Pooh.  Here are the closing verses...

"Let's frighten the dragons," I said to Pooh
"That's right" said Pooh to me
"I'm not afraid" I said to Pooh
And I held his paw and I shouted "Shoo
Silly ole dragons" and off they flew.

"I wasn't afraid" said Pooh, said he,
"I'm never afraid with you."

So wherever I am, there's always Pooh
There's always Pooh and me,
"What would I do?" I said to Pooh
"If it wasn't for you" and Pooh said "True
It isn't much for One, but Two
Can stick together" says Pooh, says he
"That's how it is" says Pooh

I've never read the poetry by Milne, but I'm happy I stumbled across this one.  It shows me why I've always loved Pooh...because he taught me the value of friendship so true...the value of not one, but two.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Five Minutes: Quiet

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word to write about for five minutes. No editing, stream of consciousness. Today's word is: Quiet.

Ready. Set. Write.


When I was in elementary school, I loved going to the library.  The smell of books in the nooks and crannies of the aisles filled with thousands of stories untold were so inviting to me.  I loved my librarian...Ms. Marshall.  I thought she had the coolest job ever...reading all day long, or so that's what I thought a librarian did.

At my elementary school library, there was a "reading room"...a place where classes could go and hear stories read, or students could go to camp out and read in even more quiet than the library itself provided.  My Mom was very involved in my school life and active on the PTA.  It was decided to "spruce" up the room a bit and paint pictures and murals of favorite stories.  My Mom and some of the ladies on the PTA spent days painting Dr. Seuss characters including Cat in the Hat on the walls of that reading room.  Not that it needed anything more inviting for me.

Now that I'm older, I still love to read, but find it hard to be quiet enough to let the words completely soak in.  I miss those days of camping out in the library at school, perusing the bookshelves for jewels I could take home, hole up in my room and read.  Quiet is good.  Quiet is refreshing   Quiet is something our world doesn't value enough.  

"Be still and know that I am God." - Psalm 46:10

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Hello My Name is Stark, and I'm All Kinds of Awesome

One of my geeky quirks is naming inanimate objects in my life.  My car is named Bluebelle.  My Kindle is named Wendall.  (Don't hate)  My iPad is named Paddington.  Recently, after winning my iPad, I decided it was time to take the plunge to a iPhone.

I've been with T-Mobile since 1999...long before they were T-Mobile.  I started out with one of those uber cool Nokia flip phones that played the Snake game and thought I was hot stuff.  Through two acquisitions, I still remained with T-Mobile.  They have been very good to me and provided me excellent customer service, and coverage that spanned the United States.  But, they didn't carry the iPhone.  There were talks last year of T-Mobile and AT&T merging which perked my interest since, at last, we'd get the iPhone.  But due to some legal schmegal, that merger was disallowed.  So I stayed loyal.  Then came the free iPad, and I was a goner.

I'm committed to a fault.  Loyal to the end.  Leaving T-Mobile was more traumatic than I wanted to face.  But, given I now had the iPad and wanted my devices all to sync, it was time to move on.  I have my home internet with AT&T, so that would be a nice bundle, and AT&T offers a corporate discount to employees of my company for their wireless service.  Score!  So, I made the call and decided, if I was going, I was going big and ordered the iPhone 5.

After a two-week back order, it arrived last night in all its glory.  After a call to an automated line, and a five minute wait, my number was ported and T-Mobile was served my divorce papers.  Amazing how quick it is to end a very long relationship.  But, I have to confess, I'm in love with the iPhone.  It's easy and it syncs beautifully to my iPad.  

And, I've named it Stark...as in Tony Stark aka Ironman.  My last phone was named Pepper, in honor of his faithful assistant, Pepper Potts.  This sleek black mechanical wonder is as amazing as Ironman himself.  And full of all kinds of awesome. 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Compliments

On this day after the election when you are either crying in your coffee or whooping it up with your Wheaties, I'm ready to move on to less controversial commentary...compliments.

I love a good compliment.  Many people get embarrassed or don't know how to take a compliment, but I try to be very gracious, yet humble, when I receive one.  Being the girly girl I am, you can't beat a sweet compliment from a man.  Really doesn't matter what it's about, just that a man notices something and points it out is an accomplishment.  Men just aren't geared (well, not all men) to be focused that way, so for some, it's monumental.  Yesterday, our Worship Pastor gave me Tweet props for my blog post.  Coming from a theologian, that was huge.  

A few days ago I received a friend request from the Mother of one of my friends.  This sweet lady sent me a message when she sent the request and said "I've been looking through pictures and just LOVE your DO!  It is so flattering!"  Folks, that made this curly-haired brunette extremely happy!  Not only was that compliment much needed (as they all are!), it was about my curly hair.  Unlike many people with naturally curly hair, I love mine.  LOVE it.  God blessed me with curls and I'm oh so grateful.  Plus the curls bring out my sass.  

Every Wednesday, I try to focus on complimenting or encouraging one of my employees.  Wednesday is middle of the week.  We've lived through two grueling days and are almost over the hump on our way to the weekend.  On those days, sometimes we just need an uplift.  Today being Wednesday, I try to keep an open eye out for ways to share a compliment.  I encourage to do the same today to someone in your life who needs it.  

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

I Am Woman, Hear Me Vote

On this bright, crisp morning I headed to my voting location to exercise my right to vote.  This is a privilege that my gender has only had for the last 92 years in this country.  That's not a long time in the grand scheme of things.  The freedoms I have are many times overlooked and taken for granted.

I won't pontificate in this post on political rants because, frankly, I'm tired of the debates.  It appears today's biggest race - the presidential election - will be a photo finish as all the polls predict a dead heat.  I even talked to one of our company's partners in the UK and our election excitement is all over the news there.  Being the leading nation in the free world gets you that kind of press.

What I will ruminate on are my reflections from a female voter.  I'm a single, career woman who is successful in my job.  But my demographic and my viewpoints blow most Gallup Polls' trends.  I support the unborn.  I don't endorse those that think I have the right to take a life of a child.  I don't stand with those women who say "This is my body, I have a choice."  Quite the opposite, my body is the temple of the Lord.  Being a human being that a couple waited 18 years to conceive makes it unfathomable for me that any woman would deny the right to life of a child that, if the mother doesn't want, there are hundreds of other women who would kill to raise that child.  Pun intended.  

If someone were to ask me the age old question, "Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?" I would say a resounding yes.  My salary has increased, I've been able to pay off my debt and I'm living much more comfortably financially than I did 4 years ago.  This not only allows me to enjoy some extra things, but to support others financially I couldn't do before.  I also have some of the best health insurance coverage I've ever had....and all free to me as a single person through my employer.  Yes, I'm better off.  But many aren't.  And I believe my successes are not from the hands of a wonderfully-ran government, but from the Hand of my Father above.  If I depended on my provision solely from the government's decisions, I'd never sleep at night.  Sure, I'm concerned about universal healthcare and the fact that I may never have the benefit of social security, but I rest in knowing that the One who sits on the Highest Throne in the universe has already won the victory.  No matter who holds the keys as the leader of the free world, I know that nothing happens outside of the One that Holds the world in His Hands.

I pray that the men and women who are elected will make wise decisions in their very critical roles, and rest in the fact that He who is Sovereign is still on the Throne.

Monday, November 05, 2012

On Election Eve

On this Election Eve, I have to admit, I'll be glad when it's all over.  As Kyle Idleman, Teaching Pastor of Southeast Christian Church said in a sermon recently, "My hope isn't in reform, it's in repentance."  No matter who wins tomorrow, I stand firm in the security of knowing that God sits on the throne that surpasses all other leaders in the universe.  Hallelujah-er!  And, my feelings about the upcoming election can be summed up in this video...


Sunday, November 04, 2012

Observations from a Time Change

We gained an hour last night, which is probably one of the most glorious weekends of the year.  If it wouldn't throw the spin if the earth off its groove, I'd recommend this occurrence once a quarter.  But from this time change, I've observed a few things...

1.  With technology these days, so many of my clocks will change automatically.  This makes changing clocks in my life so much easier than just a few years ago.  The television in my bedroom I use as an alarm, having it come on in the morning at the time I choose.  My TV is so old that I have to manually set the time and turn off the DST adjustment because I've had it long before the change of dates when we fall back and spring forward we have now.  I love my TV, even if it is old.

2.  Every time I set the clock on my nightstand I never (and I mean NEVER) remember to set my alarm.  I don't know why I have this mental block, other than I'm out of my normal routine.  Thankfully because of my TV alarm (see #1) I still have an alarm.

3.  Last night I went to bed on the old time, not the new time.  It was glorious!  It proves the point that getting enough sleep matters.  You'd think I'd learn this lesson, but alas, this night owl will be back to my old ways soon.

4.  Since I am a night person, the best part of this time change after the weekend is that the sun comes out earlier.  That helps getting moving in the morning much easier.  And I need all the help I can get.

5.  Even with going to bed "early" and gaining an hour, I still didn't get to church on time.  I will need lots of help or I'll surely be late to my own wedding one day.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Paddington

It's day three of NaBloPoMo and I'm creating my first blogpost ever from my iPad.  I was blessed to have won this wonderful piece of technology from my peers at work during our annual employee awards and I think I'm in love.  

I said long ago that I never wanted to become one of "those" Apple people.  Surely this obsession with a technology that has a symbol that represents the forbidden fruit that played a part in the ultimate fall of man in the Garden of Eden is no coincidence.  As one of my fellow Apple cult members has told me, "Rose, it's just easy."  and he is so right.  I am so in love with this iPad, that I have forsaken my 13 year relationship with T-Mobile and am moving to AT&T so I can get an accompanying iPhone.  I'm now waiting for the back ordered iPhone 5 to arrive and when it does AT&T will inform T-Mobile to cancel my service.  It feels like a divorce and Miss Loyalty here needs the 14-21 day delay to adjust to this new world.  I'm sure, like the iPad, I'll fall in love quickly.

So here I am with my new assistant, Paddington the iPad, and I'm sold for life.   

Friday, November 02, 2012

Five Minutes: Roots

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word to write about for five minutes. No editing, stream of consciousness. Today's word is: Roots.

Ready. Set. Write.


I must confess I color my hair.  Granted, I match my normal hair color, but I do so in an effort to hide those nasty gray roots that I can't believe I have at such a tender age.  Ok, so, not THAT tender, but way too young for that nonsense.  I swore I'd never color my hair, given I have a Dad with Native American blood that had stark black hair until his 50s and a Mom who barely had a strand of gray before she passed away.  But, I caved.  Yes, I am vain.

Manipulating my hair follicles is one thing, but the roots I have in my life are not so changeable.  My roots derive from my heritage...my parental upbringing...the experiences I've had in life.  And they stay grounded now by the choices I make and the beliefs I have.  Without strong roots, my tree would waver.  There are days when I fear I will topple over the experiences of life.  But I cling to that Living Water that nourishes my roots to grow them ever stronger.  The more grounded I am in Christ, the less likely I am to allow the storms of life to uproot me.  

"He will be like a tree planted by water:  it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn't fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green.  It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit." - Jeremiah 17:8


Thursday, November 01, 2012

NaBloPoMo...I Can't Believe I'm Doing This

For years since I've had my blog, I've marveled at the folks who every November participate in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) where bloggers are challenged to write daily for a month to improve their writing skills.  Knowing I love to write, I'm a bit ashamed to say I've never participated...though other bloggers I admire have in the past, such as Katrina.  

So folks, here it goes...I'll confess that I'll be using some NaBloPoMo prompts to stir the ole creative juices each day.  I hope you enjoy and be sure to come back...if for no other reason than keeping me accountable.

I recently watched the remake of Steel Magnolias on Lifetime.  It made me realize what a remarkable job Julia Roberts and Sally Fields did in their respective roles of Shelby and Me-Lynn.  You can't remake a classic like that.  It's like if you tried to remake When Harry Met Sally with two entirely different actors than Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal.  Or The Ten Commandments without Charleton Heston.  It's just wrong folks.

The remake of Steel Magnolias did include all those lines I love...even the obscure one from the doctor after Shelby's kidney transplant:  "Looks good, looks real good" that only die hard fans will remember.  My favorite quote from the movie...by far is my favorite quote for life....

"I'd rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special."  

We all live life with too much angst and fret and let those moments pass by that we could never grasp again because we're afraid, or just think it's a silly dream or passion.  Live life to the fullest.  30 minutes of wonderful is worth all the pain that may come along with it.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Five Minutes: Voice

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word to write about for five minutes. No editing, stream of consciousness. Today's word is: Voice.

Ready. Set. Write.


In today's society, we live in email and texts.  Rarely in business communication are voices heard.  Although the written word has been cherished for ages, especially when drafted on fine parchment with beautiful handwriting, today's written word has definitely taken a beating.  Shortened acronyms to communicate common words, misspellings, bad grammar.  Yet, we rely on this mode of communication a lot...A LOT.  Even as I write this entry, I realize how many people read this that have most likely never heard my voice.  

A voice can reflect so much about a person.  When you know them well, you immediately know their mood when they open their mouth.  I work with a Sales Rep in southern California and when she calls me she always knows whether I'm having a bad day or good day.  She could email me all day long and not know that as I hide behind the mask of email communication and never know my temperament.   There is something to be said for voice-to-voice communication.

Now with the technology of Skype and Facetime, we can communicate voice-to-face anywhere there is an internet connection.  Even with this technology, though, I long for people to continue to use the written word well and let their personalities and moods shine through.  My friends will tell me that my blog reads like I talk.  I'm happy when I hear that, because that is my ultimate goal.  

There is One Voice I long to hear.  The voice of Jesus when I one day bow at His Feet and hear Him hopefully say "Well done, my good and faithful servant."  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lessons Learned from Puppet Making

This past weekend I went to Elizabethtown to my friends', Julie and Rod, house to spend the day making a puppet with their youngest, Clayton.  Clayton adores me.  That may sound pious, but folks, it's true.  If that boy was my age, I'd marry him in a heartbeat.  I don't know that a man could love me as much as that young man.  He is precious.  His birthday was in September and all he wanted was to make a puppet with me.  He wants to be the next Jim Henson (and he is well on his way), but become the Christian version, taking his puppetry very seriously.  He made a resolution at the beginning of the year that he'd make his own puppet.  Being the crafty (double entendre intended) sort that I am, I was all about a day of creativity.  By the end of the evening, we had Rupert the Fish.  We'd hoped for Isaac William...but he's our next project.  From this puppetry experience, I learned some lessons...

1.  Planning is essential - You can't just wake up one morning and say "I'm going to make a puppet!" and expect to have it complete by the end of the day. Clayton spent hours researching the tips on making puppets, then drew out his various patterns, and schematics of the puppet.  He made his materials list and his Mom went out and bought the items needed.  She and Rod told me I'm the most patient person on the planet to do this, but when you love crafts - and you love this sweet boy - it's easy.

2.  Hot Glue is the best invention ever - I was in charge of hot glue and any other carcinogen products that we used.  When we got in a pinch and didn't want to take the time for sewing, hot glue worked great.  Of course, if you touched it, it was painful, but it dried in an instant and was very adhesive.  Hot glue and I are friends.  

3.  With felt, foam and covered wire, you can make the best hands ever - My favorite part of the puppet was the hands.  Clayton had made a pattern and had it all planned out and it worked like a charm.  I cut out the pattern in foam, then hot glued portions of covered wire on each finger so they would become pose-able.  Then I covered the wire-enhanced foam hands with orange felt and sewed it all together.  Voila!  We added a dowel rod and all of a sudden you have a working puppet arm that has pose-able fingers.  Genius!

4.  Humans did not evolve from tadpoles - After making the puppet head 3 times, and then changing our plans completely, I can confirm that God created us.  We didn't evolve.  A puppet is merely foam and felt plopped on a hand to come to life.  Creating a puppet head is so intricate and difficult that there is no way our complex bodies just happened.  Unfortunately, we didn't get to make Isaac because we couldn't perfect the head.  After more research, I'm hoping we'll be able to make the perfect round puppet head.  

Clayton took Rupert the Fish to church the next day to show off to his class.  He was so excited.  I am now doing research to figure out how to perfect the puppet head.  Let's hope another puppet is in our future....one that will be equipped with a well-crafted head.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Humbled and Grateful

Every year my company awards employees in various categories of recognition. There is "Best of..." in each of the vertical businesses...."Best Display of Corporate Values" among others.  The entire list of employees eligible goes out to the company for nominations.  No one in upper management can participate...only peers.  Once the nominees are tallied, each category presents four folks up for the vote.  The winning candidate is chosen by their peers.  

This year, I was surprised to win the "Best of B2B" award.  For those of you who are wondering, "B2B" stands for "Business to Business."  The winners each receive an Apple gift certificate for an iPad, which is quite exciting for me, the technology geek who is too cheap to buy an iPad or Android tablet, though I've pondered buying one for quite some time.  I'm now planning my budget to accessorize my prize and, of course, a name for said iPad.

Winning this award not only surprised me, but humbled me...and caused me to be very grateful from a heart that grumbles more than speaks gratitude.  It was just about a year ago that my company was acquired.  I said good-bye to co-workers I'd worked with for years and built companies with and started on a journey that seemed quite unknown.  I rarely make it over the "acquisition line" and knew that nothing in this life is certain when it comes to jobs.  I began to ponder what my options would be and how I should navigate these new waters in a new world order.  I never would have believed that a year later I would be here.  But, God is good, and I am grateful.

Not only did I grow in my knowledge and lessons learned in my career, I've grown and learned so much in my personal life as well.  As I reflect back over the year, I see how God has been working in my life all along and yet, I never knew exactly what was happening.

A year ago my focus and thoughts were elsewhere.  I was preparing to face an impending change of employment.  I worked out all the scenarios in my head on how I'd proceed once I lost my job.  Well, I still have my job, and though nothing is guaranteed, I've weathered our acquisition, another large acquisition, loss of many co-workers (voluntarily and not so voluntarily) and a difficult layoff a month ago that caused a loss of both of my bosses and my counterpart.  I press on knowing that for this season, I'm where God wants me.  

What did I learn over this past year?  One of the lessons I learned (among so many) was that although I'd love God to come into my kitchen and write on my nice blank wall each morning every step I need to take, I really only need to trust Him.  You see, trust is a challenge for me.  Trusting people is hard because I've had many in my life not be so trustworthy.  Many times I transpose that characteristic unfairly to God.  He knows that, so He does things to stretch my faith to trust Him oh so much more.  Over the past year, I've prayed and begged God for "what's the next step here?" in many areas of my life....work, service in His church, relationships, etc....and I've heard more often than not one phrase...."Trust Me."  Really, God?  It's that simple?  What He showed me was that if I devote my life to Him, pray, get in His Word daily, I don't need all the answers or all the steps that my little OCD planner heart longs for.  I just need to take one step at a time and my immersion in Him will guide my way.  Oh, my sinful heart may take steps in the wrong direction, but He will work it all out for His Good.  

As crazy and chaotic as my life has been over the past year, I feel very confident that I'm right where I need to be.  I wouldn't have put myself here in this place a year ago, but looking back at the journey, I have many confirmations I'm where God wants me for now.  So I'll enjoy the soon-to-come iPad prize and remember each time I use it that God is good and He can be trusted, even when my doubtful heart doesn't want to believe.  Humbled, Grateful and Blessed.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Five Minutes: Focus

Each week Gypsy Mama chooses a word to write about for five minutes. No editing, stream of consciousness. Today's word is: Focus.
Ready. Set. Write.

The more technology in my life, the less I focus.  You would think with the advanced tools we have we'd accomplish more in much less time.  Although sometimes that is true, it has just made me more ADD and quite distracted.  Let's take work for example.  I have two instant messaging platforms I'm logged into at all times....wait, three, if you count the one connected to in our CRM.  My email notifier pops up on my screen in the bottom right hand corner when mail arrives, which is about every 5 minutes (or less.)  My phone rings and the caller ID pops up on my computer screen.  I keep my cell phone tucked away at work and only look at it periodically in my day or I'd have those bells and whistles dragging me away.

This week has been a busy one, but at the end of the day on Friday, I'm thankful that I accomplished most all I needed to this week.  When I left yesterday I was exhausted and literally fell asleep with my phone in my hand playing a round of Hanging with Friends.  This morning I was able to spend some quality time in the Word and in prayer and it was so refreshing.  One of the lessons learned was keeping Jesus on the throne of my heart...not any other thing...not a possible husband (that I long for)....not a job...not anything, but Him.  Ahh, the focus that comes from a wise and simple lesson such as that.  May I keep my focus on what is eternal, not temporal...and may I keep my focus always on Him.