Monday, January 31, 2011

A Waiting Day

Today I am waiting.
Not waiting for anything wonderful or spectacular, but waiting for a repair man. Heavy sigh.

Our four month old Kenmore Elite refrigerator has stopped making ice. It never made enough to begin with, which is my only complaint about the new fridge. If I have a big enough family to need a 27 cubic foot refrigerator don't you think I might just need more than four cups of ice a day?!? I am hoping that I may have had a defective one all along and Mr. Repairman will not only make it so we actually have ice, but have enough ice. A girl can hope.... and wait apparently.

I don't mind waiting a week for the appointment, that is totally understandable to me. I manage a service business and week long waits are not out of the question for us during our peak season. What I don't understand is them telling me the technician will arrive SOME time between 8am and 5pm. What is up with that? The entire day I have to wait? They don't know where he will start and end his day? It seriously makes me want to just bang my head against the wall in frustration.

I am trying to use my time wisely. I have swept and vacuumed and emptied the dishwasher. I have laundry going, dinner thawing and bills paid. It isn't that I don't have anything to occupy my time, but the thought that my time is so invaluable to Sears that I get an 8 hour window to cool my heels waiting.

Rant over. I am going to continue marking things off on my never ending to-do list. Hoping you are having a marvelous Monday!

In His Peace --

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Foggy Surprise

In our little corner of the world this morning the fog was so thick I could barely see the trees in our yard. This is a photo I snapped on my phone as I returned from taking the girls to school. There should be a valley full of trees and a bridge in that picture, but all you could see was a vast expanse of murk and a few dark shadows.

As the sun started to rise and daylight began to seep through the fog you could see that the moisture had frozen to the trees in a beautiful display of hoar frost. Oh how I was wishing I had my 'real' camera with me. The trees were so pretty, but with the fog it would have been impossible to get a good picture with a cell phone camera.

As I returned from my next journey out  I noticed a stretch of road where all the trees only had frost on one side. It made for an interesting visual, particularly on the pine trees where the half green and half white coloring was quite striking.

About half way home, still kicking myself that I didn't have the good camera (and wondering if I could justify purchasing a small, good quality camera to carry in my purse at all times), I break out of the fog and into a pocket of bright blue sky and morning sun. What a surprise! Right about then I was wishing I hadn't left my sunglasses at home!

As my eyes adjust to the now painfully bright light,  I see a valley of still frost covered trees glistening in the sunshine. They were stunning against the bright blue Midwestern winter sky. Again, my cell phone camera didn't do it justice --

I would have tried to get another couple shots to make sure I got a good one, but I quickly realized that pulling over to the side of the road when it is foggy all around you isn't the brightest idea on the planet. So, I snapped my two pictures and moved on.

Guess what? I went less than a quarter of a mile and was deep in the fog once again. I had just enough of a glimpse in just the light and just the right place for me to be able to pull over and take the picture and capture the beauty I had been admiring all morning.

What a wonderful gift for my Friday morning. God is just amazing like that, isn't He?

Have you had a fun God moment recently?

In His Peace --

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Double Rainbow in Port Townsend, WA.

Today I would like to say thank you to all the individuals in the world who provide customer service. I am not talking about the cashier who never looks at you or converses with her neighbor, but the people who really love their jobs and it shows.

I have been involved in the service industry since my teen years, so I tend to pay more attention than most folks. Customer service is a lost art, but there are stand-out individuals out there. I have had many encounters on both sides of the coin over the years. Have you ever noticed that we tend to share the bad experiences we have and not the good ones? Something is wrong with that picture! Since it is Thankful Thursday I am going to share with you an encounter that makes me feel thankful.

Early this fall we were at our local Golden Corral for dinner. I have a distinct dislike for buffet style dining, but my kids enjoy having oodles of options spread out before them at mealtime. One afternoon in a moment of weakness I agreed to eat there. We had a very nice young man named Abe who was in charge of our section. He discreetly filled our glasses and removed our plates with wonderful timing. The kids dubbed him "Magic Abe". When we were finished with our meal and waddling our calorie-laden selves out to the car, young Abe came running across the parking lot after us, "Miss! Miss! You forgot something!" Our daughter left her retainer on the table and we hadn't noticed. This was certainly going above and beyond. He could have carelessly tossed it in the trash or turned it in to management, but he took the effort himself to take care of it. It was a little thing, but it showed caring and character. Two things that are often missing in the folks on the front lines of service these days.

Make an effort yourself to be the kind of person that is enjoyable for your service industry folks to interact with. Hang up your cell phone in the check out line, look your cashier in the eye and say hello. You may just be the only friendly person that cashier encounters for the day. Making the effort to be kind and friendly to others with whom we interact is a great way to shine the light of Jesus. At the end of they day they may just be saying their thanks for you!

Romans 12:18 NIV

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
In His Peace- 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Delicious Cup of Tea!

My cup of choice for today!
One of my favorite treats in the winter time is a nice hot cup of tea. I almost never drink it in the warm season, but certainly enjoy my cuppa warmth in the winter.

A fellow tea drinker inquired if I had ever tasted Vanilla Chai tea. Well, I hadn't, so the next time I was at the store I looked for some. I picked up a box of Bigelow Vanilla Chai Tea. I steeped it with water the for the first cup, but while I was waiting I was reading the box...

The kind folks at Bigelow claimed that brewing your Vanilla Chai tea in hot milk was a common serving choice. Whodathunkit? Hmmm..... well, this peaked my interest. Of course I had to have another cup of tea made with milk. It was delicious and reminded me of the hot milk my mom would make for me when I didn't feel well or couldn't sleep. (Thanks, Mom!)

After I enjoyed this cup of loveliness I started thinking about the extra calories this little delight would add to my day. Even non-fat milk has 86 calories a cup, and my big old cup of choice holds almost 2 cups of liquid. That is a whopping 172 calories for a cup of tea -- not exactly a caloric bargain. Sigh... why do all the good tasting things have to be fattening??

Saddened by the loss of yet another yummy treat I started pondering my options. Today my tastebuds and my waistline are back in happy land because I discovered sugar-free vanilla creamer that has only 30 calories per serving. I snapped that right off the shelf in the store today, made a mad dash home and started the tea pot. It was delightful! Very similar to the higher calorie original. I have had two cups this morning and probably have a pretty good caffeine buzz going! I would probably be dangerous if I did this every day!

I just had to share because it made me happy, and happy is good.

Have a great day!

Friday, January 21, 2011

January Scripture Two

Do you see the face in the clouds? I thought this picture was amazing. It was taken by a gal named Kennedy. I wish I could say I took it, but this one isn't mine.

The first half of January has skittered right past us and it is time for my new memory verse. I am about 90% accurate on my first memory verse for the month, I am very pleased with that and am ready to strain my brain cells a bit more by adding another.

I selected this particular verse because it is so true. Satan is desperate and very busy. You hear of his work in the world every day. We have to be vigilant. It is one of the reasons I am working hard to memorize scripture this year. It will strengthen my armor. I remember concepts, but I really struggle with the verbage and placement of those concepts. Pray that I will remember my verses for more than the two weeks I am concentrating on each of them. For added accountability I am posting them here and I joined Beth Moore's Siesta Scripture Memory Team. You know God is working in BIG ways when 8,000+ women sign up for memory work -- I am excited to be a part of it.

My verse for the second half of January is 1 Peter 5:8, NIV -

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Lord, let it not be me! Give me the tools to stand firm in my faith.

I encourage you to add scripture memorization to your goals this year as well.

In His Peace --

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Travel


Thankful Thursday is back again. The bulk of the past week I had the privilege of spending in Walt Disney World with most of my family. My husband had a business conference at the Yacht Club Resort and we took two of our kids with us for a fun trip.

We didn't leave our oldest behind because we don't like her or anything like that. She opted to stay home to attend practice for show choir and speech -- both of which have competitions in the very near future. We are impressed with her dedication and commitment to her school activities. I was certainly delighted to hug my girl when we arrived at the airport. I missed having her along. Whatever will I do when she leaves for college?

On this thankful Thursday I am thankful that my kids had this wonderful opportunity to visit the Disney theme parks in Florida. January was a great time to visit. The parks were not jammed wall to wall with people and the wait times for the attractions were very reasonable, especially during the "Magic Hours" for Disney Resort guests.  Much more enjoyable than when we visited Disneyland over Christmas in 2005 . The park was beautiful in it's Christmas splendor, but amazingly overcrowded.

I am also thankful that we had no travel difficulties and we were carried all those miles safely and without incident. Isn't it amazing that you can go halfway across the country in an afternoon? Two generations ago that was unheard of. We forget what a marvel modern transportation is.

I am also thankful to be home. Travel is an adventure, but it is always good to be home. Not so thankful for the 10 loads of laundry that has kept me busy today!

So that is my thankful list for this third Thursday of the new year. What are you thankful for today?

In His Peace -

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Winter

Happy Thursday!

This week the weather has been wacky all over the country with snow falling across the majority of the United States. The past two days have been bitterly cold here in the Midwest. As I write it is a whopping six degrees outside with a windchill of -13. As cold as that sounds it is 10 degrees warmer today than it was yesterday!

I don't think my feet ever warmed up yesterday! I was feeling a bit sorry for my poor chilled feet, but then I got thinking about how fortunate my feet are to be just chilled and not frozen. To complain about being cold in a house where I could probably turn up the furnace or go to my well-stocked closet and grab another article of clothing to put on started to seem a bit silly. It is totally, painfully, horribly cold outside, but I can choose to remain inside my home.

What if I didn't have that choice? I am thankful I do have a choice, but many do not. According to a study done in 2009 by USA Today, 1.6 million people are homeless in this country. Some due to drug and alcohol addictions, others who made a few wrong turns in life, and others simply down on their luck and out of the financial resources to maintain a home. Staggering numbers of people have nowhere to lay their heads at night. Nowhere to shelter themselves from snow, rain or wind. No hope to thaw out their frozen fingers and toes.

I was shocked to discover how many homeless children there are in our community. The economic downturn has pushed many from teetering on the edge to over the brink and into the streets. Can you even fathom being outside in temperatures of -20 and below? Goodness! I can't stand being outside at 20 above zero! Both my daughters worked on service projects this year that provided simple fleece tie blankets for children who are homeless. I hope and pray that those blankets are each keeping a child warm enough to survive in these bitter temperatures.

If you have an overstocked linen closet, coat closet or sock drawer, please consider donating them to an agency in your community that can distribute your abundance to someone who really needs it right now. If you live in Sioux City or the surrounding area there is a warm clothing drive here next week. Here is a link to the article in the Sioux City Journal about how you can help.

I am thankful for my warm house, my warm slippers, my favorite warm fleece shirt, my comfortable warm bed and the space heater in my office that tries very hard to keep up with the cold air here.

What are you thankful for this Thursday?

In His Peace -

Friday, January 7, 2011

Forgetful Friday!

Hello Friends!

I have been totally slacking off on Thankful Thursdays since the end of our thirty days of thankfulness in November.  Somehow Thursdays keep slipping right on by me. In light of my forgetfulness we will call this Forgetful Friday.

This week I am thankful for winter. Seriously. I know, a surprising statement from the woman whose cold weather Tweets are frequently followed by #Ihatewinter. I will admit that I hate being cold, but winter does have it's advantages for me. Our business is seasonal and winter is our (mostly) off season, although we are still working, we are working a LOT less.

1) No 70 hour work weeks for me. I could do this all year and be perfectly happy.
2) No 70+ hour work weeks for my spouse. It is so nice to have him around.
3) With my spouse around the house I have a second driver which means less kid running for me! No more trying to be two or three places at once.  Galen even fills my car with gas in the winter so I don't have to stand out in the cold. One of the many reasons why I love him so dearly.
4) Available time for naps. One of my favorite winter perks.
5) Free time! Time to catch up on genealogy or play Wii or board games as a family. (Galen and I love to play Super Mario Bros. on the Wii)
6) No lawn mowing! This by itself clears 4 hours a week off my schedule.
7) Show choir season - extra work, extra money, but one happy teenage daughter. : )
8) Flannel sheets and down comforters - how can you not like all that fluffy, warm softness?
9) Hot chocolate and popcorn parties with the kids. It just isn't the same when it isn't cold out.
10) More reading time. I can't even count how many books I have plowed through this winter.

I could probably come up with just as long a list of things I don't like about winter, but since I am focusing on being thankful I better leave it at the good stuff.

I hope you can find something to enjoy even on the dreariest of winter days!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fond Memories of a Great Teacher

I just found out my favorite teacher from high school is suffering from dementia. Although I have not seen him since 1984 (How is that for dating myself?), it pains me to think of him losing his memory.

Mr. E. taught science and being from a small school district I had him for a teacher three different times and was his teacher's assistant one year. I think I only got the job because I was one of the few people who could read his hand writing!  Considering the amount of time I spent in his office from 7th-12th grade I had a lot of practice.

In 10th grade I was really struggling in school and I had Mr. E. for biology. I knew the material but totally tanked every time we took a test. I just could not seem to get it out of my head and onto the paper. It was very frustrating and disheartening for me. Mr. E. let me come in during his planning period and after school to have extra time to finish the tests. He also found me a much smarter study buddy and I have wonderful memories of biology study sessions with my friend, Deb. With his show of kindness and compassion combined with Deb's laughter-laden study sessions,  I passed biology with a solid B. He believed in me when I wanted to give up.  It is something I have never forgotten.

I am thankful that several years ago I wrote to him thanking him for helping me in high school. Had I flunked biology I may not have graduated with my class. It was a big deal. If I had waited a few more years my thank you may not have resonated with him at all.

Once more just for you, Mr. Engel -- "Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species!" I think every student I know from CHS can still recite that thanks to you and your ever present yard stick. Thank you for your many years of service to the students and community.

Perhaps if you have someone who has made a difference in your life, big or small, you could take time this year to let them know what they have meant to you. You never know when the opportunity to do so will slip away.

As always, In His Peace - 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

The first day of the new year. Three hundred sixty-five days of possibilities and opportunities await us. Whatever 2010 was for you, whether wrought with failures or successes, it is now over and a fresh new year has come. What are you hoping to do with it?

So many people look at reinventing themselves in the new year. Get organized, read more, lose weight, the list could go on and on. One could almost list verbatim the items that will be in the newspaper ads in the first few Sundays of January. Every year it is the same, a plethora of items all geared toward how we set our minds for our fresh start.

Having goals isn't necessarily a bad thing. Unfortunately, people often set themselves up for failure by making so many changes simultaneously that they can't maintain any of them. Or instead of looking at some of the things we do well, we tend to pick at our flaws instead creating a negative mindset that only digs us deeper into despair rather than lifting us up. If you are going to make resolutions or set goals, break them into small, manageable steps and your ability to succeed will be much greater.

God created you and loves you regardless of your shape, size or organizational level. However, you should strive to be the best you, not just to look good or feel good or fit into those size 6 jeans, but to glorify God. Because He lives in us and works through us and we should be physically and mentally fit for service.

Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?
(1 Cor 3:16)
 As I have worked the past few months to return my physical self  to a healthier state, I have used the verse above to help keep me on track. I also like the following from 1 Corinthians 10:13, which is my memory verse for January:  
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
 Whatever your goals are for the new year, know that God is with you every step you take, even if you end up taking a few backwards steps.  If you trip and fall don't give up! You are God's workmanship (Ephesians 2:10) and worth the effort.

In His Peace -