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Archive for March, 2019

Spent a fun few hours at a new local business staining, sanding, painting, and waxing. According to their Facebook page. Board and Brush Creative Studio is “a place for creating fun and unique wood decor projects from scratch while enjoying a fun instructor led atmosphere.”

My two friends and I spent the whole three hours admiring all the beautiful examples on the walls, while completing our own projects. So many colors and designs. It was hard to decide what to do for ourselves…

Our table instructor, Hannah, is a junior in high school and so knowledgeable and confident in leading us from plain pine board to finished product. She was incredible. I never felt overwhelmed though looking back on the day, I did a lot I had never done before. Definitely learned some new things today.

Working hard or hardly working – I’m not telling.

I had creative license in choosing the project, the stain and paint colors and never felt pressured. If I hate it (I don’t), it would be my own fault. Each step was communicated well so it would be hard to mess up anything.

My BIG project complete

Music, refreshments, fun with friends, some personalized wall decor for my kitchen – pretty wonderful afternoon. Can’t wait to go back.

Our finished bonus projects

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It’s a sunny Saturday. I’ve already been out for tea at the local coffee shop with my friend, and walked through WalMart getting a few necessaries. We have a birthday party to drop into this afternoon and another errand or two to get done before the day slips away. The pork shoulder is humming along in the Crock Pot and I’m learning how to upload my first video on YouTube.

Uh – what?

Yes – I am almost in my 60s and I’m learning something new today. Don and I try to learn new things every day…maybe not all as ambitious as establishing a YouTube channel and uploading videos, but new to us, nonetheless. We enjoy learning new vocabulary words, especially those that we can use in sermons or conversations. We enjoy using new vegetables in our cooking, or trying new recipes. We cooked bangers and mash for the first time on St. Patrick’s Day.

Recently Don learned more than he wanted to about home repair. Maybe not his favorite activity, but he did it and admits he learned a lot. Installing new windows, creating window wells, fixing sump pumps, replacing a ceiling fan and faucet…Admittedly, the learning is more enjoyable when you choose it, rather than it choosing you.

Rotary phoneSome of us think we’re too old (or too dumb) to learn new things, but I think that’s either a lie you’ve believed or a lazy way to live life. I’m sure you don’t still have a rotary dial telephone or a TV without a remote control. Along the line you’ve learned to use an electric stove and a gas washer and dryer. Maybe you’re really daring, using a smartphone with wifi, sharing iPhone photos of the grandkids on Facebook.

We all must learn new things every day or we’ll die. We’ll be left in the dust of technology and we’ll be boring in conversations. I found a fun and informative blog from a few years ago that shows why new things will enliven our lives, and ways to learn new things  right now via apps and the internet…ways to keep your brain alive and alert. YouTube is full of how-to tutorials, from how to upload your first video (that’s me!) to how to tie a tie or make slime. There are DIY channels to learn a new home or cooking skill, books to read on herbs to plant or window boxes to make. I’m not talking about learning a new language or how to play a musical instrument. It’s the small, incremental steps that make your life interesting…it all starts with making the choice. And NOT believing the lie that you can’t because of…(insert your excuse).

Worst enemyWhat new thing will you learn today?

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img_2306Had a whole blog written about staycations. Got about three paragraphs in and realized it was so mundane and boring, that I wouldn’t even read it. Deleted the whole thing.

Instead, just a quick reminder:

Be kind.

Today Don and I spent a lot of time with sales clerks, waitresses and cashiers, fellow drivers on the interstate and hospital workers. Now that I’m home, quietly snuggled up on my couch, I’ve been thinking about those small connections and praying I reflected Christ in a way that brings Him glory.

Did I show appreciation for the service I was given? Did I tip generously? Did I smile and make eye contact with those I was speaking with? Did I listen well and respond appropriately? Did I show respect and compassion, even if given less than stellar service? Was I honest in all my dealings?

It doesn’t take much extra effort…and kindness speaks so well to people everywhere. The apostle Paul says, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”  (Philippians 2:3)

What a great way to give testimony of Jesus to the world around us.

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

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I’m a baseball fan – more specifically, I’m a Chicago Cubs baseball fan. And today is Opening Day.

If you are not a sports fan, especially of a team who used to be perennial losers, you may not understand the significance of Opening Day. Let me give you a little insight…

Up until 2015, the Chicago Cubs were known as the lovable losers…maybe not to their fans, but certainly to fans of our rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. No, I take that back. To Cardinal fans, the Cubs were just plain losers.

Every year around mid to late May, most Cubs fans realized that once again, their favorite team would not be winning their division, maybe even finishing in last place…again. The catch phrase – “Wait ’til next year” – was our cry. Hope springs eternal in the hearts of life long Cub fans. And every year, we were disappointed. Oh yes – we had our moments…1984, 1989, 1998, 2003, 2007 and 2008…always giving us a taste of what could be. But always, other teams played better in those final crucial games…and we went home earlier than we would like.

But in 2015, the tide turned. Our lowly team, with fresh young faces, started winning, unexpectedly defeating other teams who were considered “better” or “more talented.” But you can’t measure heart, and those young guys didn’t know anything about Cubs history, or the lovable losers tag, or that the Cubs weren’t supposed to win. They didn’t make it to the World Series that year, but now their die hard fans were excited. Could “wait ’til next year” actually be accurate this time?

Yes – it was. 2016 was the year of the Cubs. We won right out of the gate…played well all year, and defeated the Giants and Dodgers to make it to the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. The Cubs hadn’t been to the Series since 1945 – 71 years! Books have been written about this team and this series. The Cubs defeated the Indians in seven games, with more drama than a “This Is Us” episode.

The World Series trophy came to Cedar Rapids – couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see it

My Cardinal-loving son came to watch that last game at our house…”To watch you watch your team win the World Series.”  He’s such a great guy – he knew how much this meant to me and even though his team was out of it, he wanted to be a part of celebrating with me. That 7th game was a nail biter…can’t even watch a replay now without getting nervous.

Chicago trip 006

Enjoyed a win at Wrigley in August 2018 with sister, niece and son – my first night game.

My Cub-loving son was out of town, but we connected via texts…he was watching in Ames, and me on my couch. Nothing binds people together like sports and the mutual love of a team. It’s part of why I love Opening Day. Everything is fresh, hope is bright, we’re all starting from the same 0-0 score. The long season stretches before us – with promises of close games and blow outs, diving catches and wall-climbing grabs, monstrous home runs, and swinging bunt singles, sweeping tags and stolen bases.

Hello, Opening Day! Go Cubs!

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On my desk as a reminder – not a selfie 🙂

I am a receptionist. And very proud of it. I provide the first impression of the company and I take that responsibility very seriously. Answering phones and greeting visitors – with a smile – every day – is not as easy as some would assume.

I’ve given directions to random people who walk in off the street. They have no address, just the name of whatever business they are looking for. Thanks to Google they leave happy. Had a semi truck driver ask me where the post office is (it’s the next block over from my office). Our side streets are narrow and crowded with parked cars, but I was able to help him decide what would be the best route to drive to deliver the mail. You’re welcome.

I had a co-worker who shared this job with me for a number of years. We used to laugh about incidents, phone calls, visitors we would handle. We called it “receptionist humor.” Such as…

I’ve had people come into our lobby assuming we ARE the post office (both addresses start with 615)…one person even insisted. No – I think I would know. I really wanted to be snarky, but remembering I am the face of my company (at least in the office lobby), I kept the snark on the down low.

I always answer the phone with “Good Morning” and the name of my company. Then I pause to hear what the caller wants. One time, the voice on the other end waited a beat and then asked, “Are you a real person?” Sometimes, sir, sometimes.

I’m glad we don’t have an automatic phone service…not just because I’d be out of a job, but because people are so relieved when they can deal with an actual person…someone they can ask questions of…and I feel good about solving their problem or directing them to the person who can.

My side gig is to pass out smiles and encouragement…not just to visitors but also to our own employees. People have enough stress in their lives, they don’t need it from the first person they see in the office.

I love interacting with the delivery people who enter the front door. Jimmy John’s drivers; Lee-Ann, our mail lady; Aaron and Dave from a local printing shop; Don, our dry cleaner driver – they have tough jobs out in the weather year round. Smiles don’t cost me anything and can be priceless to someone else.

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More reminders to keep it positive

Please realize that I am not perfect and don’t claim to be. I have stressful days and often catch myself whining about something insignificant. I have callers who get on my last nerve. (BTW – if you have a problem and need to call a company to resolve it, the person who answers the phone probably didn’t cause whatever is freaking you out. Be polite or I’ll tell your mother.)

I’ve caught myself venting to my supervisor. I often have to apologize for my poor attitude to her and to the Lord. Because, ultimately, I’m not just the face or voice of my company, I’m the face of Jesus, His hands and feet to this world. I need to remember to represent Him well.

So…how may I help you? :)))

 

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Some of you know that I’ve given up caffeine for Lent – but truthfully, I’ve had a little chocolate since Ash Wednesday, so it is more accurate to say I’ve given up caffeine drinks for Lent. I’m not a cola drinker, not a tea drinker – I am a coffee drinker. So really, I’ve given up COFFEE for Lent. No – I’m not shouting.

I’m halfway through the 40 days of Lent and after the first few headache days, it’s really been smooth sailing. I have not been tempted, and I’ve been close to coffee every day. I order the coffee for my work place, parcel out the coffee in the filters for ease of use, and smell every pot as it brews. I do the same for church on Sundays. I even make a pot occasionally for Don on weekend afternoons. I’m being honest – I haven’t been tempted to take even a sip.

coffee shopsBut…I am looking forward to drinking coffee on Friday, April 19th. And I’m going to start making the rounds of my local coffee shops in May. We have a plethora of coffee locations to choose from…all within walking distance from my office. I tested out iced coffee last go round – I think I’ll stay a little more calorie conscious and just do a 16 ounce brewed black. I’m mapping out the route…only one per week, should take me through most of the summer.

Hey – just because I’m fasting it, doesn’t mean I can’t dream, right?

Coffee_meme

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img_1315For the last three plus years I have surrounded myself with kids. I’ve always enjoyed children, especially my own, but sometimes a few could really get on my nerves. Honest confession: I like kids who behave. But as I’ve grown older, I think I have more grace than when my own children were younger.

Quite a few years ago, when I helped out in a kids’ ministry to 4th-6th graders, I’d get exasperated with the kiddos who enjoyed causing turmoil. I think they felt it was their calling in life. “Let’s get Kris to lose her temper.”  And each Wednesday night, I left irritated. Now I know the Bible says to love everyone, but these little ones got on my very last nerve every week. So much for showing the love to Jesus to the world, right?

img_2090Then came a seven year hiatus, when I basically had no ministry responsibilities. I spent a lot of alone time with Jesus. Through a series of events, I felt a mindset shift in many areas. I made intentional choices to get healthy, ready my Bible, lose weight, reconnect with friends and family, take up running, explore new adventures. Somewhere in the course of that time, I fell in love with kids again…even those that used to irritate me. Of course, I don’t have involvement with those same kids from way back, but I still encounter children whose sole purpose in life is to disrupt whatever environment they are in. They’re really good at it too. But God has given me a supernatural love for them. No way could this be on my own. And on top of that, I love all the other ones too. The ones who are wild and crazy, the one whose smile lights a room, and the ones who are shy and reserved.

img_1567Every child needs to know they are valued and loved, no matter their behavior. The world they live in is turbulent and scary so I want to be a safe place for each one. A place they can go for encouragement, a hug, a prayer, maybe even a little face-to-face “what ARE you doing?” if necessary. I want them to see Jesus in all that I say and do. Occasionally I get in someone’s face to confront behavior that is unacceptable (cheating, lying, bullying are non-negotiables), but mostly I want them to really know they are loved…by me and most importantly, by God. I still make mistakes…many times. But I’m relying on the grace and mercy of God. He loves those kids more than I do!

I am blessed to be a part of the kids’ ministry at our church. We have preschool through high school as part of our Wednesday night program. This week is our last JAM (Jesus and Me) of the school year and though I’m tired, I’m sad too. Once the program is finished, I may not see some of these kids again until September, or maybe not at all.  We have such a small window of time and opportunity…make it a count. These kids are worth it!

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