Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Giving a Friend a Gift

A friend is a gift you give yourself.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

I have a friend who just loved our drinking jars, which we bought nearly fifteen years ago at store. She has been using mason jars without handles, but she liked ours with the handle so much that I have been looking for some for over a year...ever since she asked me where we had gotten ours. That is not to say I did not find any during the past year, but $10 per glass was a bit steep I felt, as much as I love her. So, imagine how elated I was to see a set of four drinking jars on sale for $10 in the Kohl's sales catalog starting this past weekend, plus I had a 20% off coupon; I planned on getting them eight glasses! We were having lunch out with this same family on Sunday after church and then we were going to do some shopping hoping they would take our daughter back to the church with theirs for practice for the Easter program.

Lunch was great and they took off with my daughter so my husband and I were alone, such a rare event. My husband wanted to go to Sam's Club before we went to Kohl's and that is when we saw this cute set that not only had colorful lids with two sets of matching straws, but also burlap sleeves with little sweet like sayings. Seeing that there was an orange one, my friend's absolutely favorite color, we got the set of six for $17 and never made it to Kohl's. Aren't they cute? I wanted to give the glasses to them right away, because I thought that my friend, also being a Sam's Club Member, might see them and buy them before their anniversary which is over a month away. So we gave them, unwrapped, when we picked up our daughter at their house. They really liked them as much as I hoped they would and, of course, my friend claimed the orange one the moment she saw it. Do I know my friend or what?

~ My Lord, thank you for sweet moments like this one when a simple gift can make a friend smile. ~

Friday, March 28, 2014

Prayer Request

Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers. ~J. Sidlow Baxter

I had been praying for certain things for the last few years, asking my Lord to bless us in very specific areas, but nothing seemed to be happening with them. One of these has been my husband's career and then he was not chosen for a promotion when the company created two positions a few months ago that he was pretty much doing in a limited capacity along with his actual job description. The man who originally hired my husband had promised such a position to him once the company created them, but he had moved to another division and his new boss was not a strong manager in that way.

To complicate things, one man, who does some of the scheduling and used to have my husband travel more than others, seems to have felt threaten by my husband, possibly because my husband was more qualified to do the job he had just moved into back when my husband was first hired. There are people who try to make others look bad so they look good and he was one of them. This man complained about my husband so much within the office that the manager was out voted about promoting him. The office is in Chicago and we are in the Atlanta area, so only a few people really have enough contact with my husband to know him and they took this one man's word over the manager, since he is one of them.

There are also people who try to encourage people to strength their weaknesses and use their strengths so that they do their best, which make those people look even better. My husband is one of those people. He is an excellent manager. He says he was born for that job. (He is so cute sometimes.)

Last weekend, my husband decided to try for the management position that has been left open since his manager quit, completely forgetting I suggested it when I heard the news. This would place him over the positions he did not get a few months ago, leaving us both discouraged, and over the man who feels threatened by him, who probably is also trying for the position himself. What the person who will be making the determination does not know is that if that man becomes the manager, three of their best service techs will be leaving including my husband, and they were hired by my husband's referral. They all have been thinking of going back to a former employer that is now desperate for good service techs and will probably pay and treat them better this time around, so they hope anyway. However, my husband has been asking them to wait until the dust settles because changes were being made, this he did before he even thought about going for the manager position.

I got to thinking maybe he did not get the other promotions because God had this planned out for something better and my husband will be the general manager for all the US and Mexico. That would be so like my Lord!

My husband talked to the man who originally hired him and he said he wondered if he was going to go for it. I think my husband would have already had it if this man was still over this division. This man has very good rapport with the man, who would be making the decision for the position, however he is also in the process of going back home to Japan and being replaced. So much is up in the air!

The downside is that we do not wish to move to Chicago where the corporate office is. Actually, my husband could do the job very well from home by phone conferencing and some traveling to the office as well as to visit customers. The general manager of the another division within the company has been doing this from California. Also, most of the customers are in Atlanta so that could be beneficial.

So, I have been asking everyone to pray that my husband not only get the manager position but that we do not have to move as well. May it be done as God wills.

~ Thank you, my Lord, for hearing our prayers. Please let it be as You will above all things. ~

Monday, March 24, 2014

Catching a Breather Here

The world is so dreadfully managed, one hardly knows to whom to complain. ~Ronald Firbank

I hate the time change stuff:
Spring ahead, fall behind.
Spring ahead, fall behind.
Spring ahead, fall behind.
Just pick one and stop this craziness! Daylight saving time? How does it save daylight? I mean, really, what is the point? Most businesses have lights on all day whether it is day or night, so it is not really "saving" anything at all!

Thursday, the Thursday before last actually, after the Princess begged and we were acclimating to the time change, I was determined to get her to the youth praise and worship team practice. I drove 25 minutes west to the Yorkville campus of our church where it should have been. Unfortunately, we were met with construction inside as they were replacing some of the media equipment and lighting. Practice, we were told, was at the other campus. So we drove another 30 minutes east past our home to find only the adult team practicing as the youth one had been cancelled. Then I drove another 15 minutes to get home with at least a quarter tank of gas wasted. Had I been on Facebook.... (No, I am still resisting the whole Facebook/social networking thing. It is not going to happen.) So, my husband talked to the Music Pastor, who explained that due to vacations where the youth were filling in with the adult P&W and the changes they need to make with stage, they have cancelled the youth praise and worship practice until after Easter, but that he will put together a music book so that the Princess can begin learning the songs. We hope to have them over for dinner this week with their first little baby! I just have some cleaning to do....

I received my check from my first consignment sale the Saturday before last; it was over $200! Not bad considering that all those clothes and books were from consigment sales so I sold them for about the same price as I paid for them, although I price on the low side. That $200 paid for books and clothes that I bought so far for the Princess plus some. Considering that I get 70% of the sale price, I did very well and sold about half of the things I put in it. I replaced the tags with ones for the next sale, added all our VHS tapes as this sale does not have a limit on them as the others do, and will be dropping those items off this afternoon. I also signed up for another sale that takes place in the middle of April, but if I do not have enough left over from this one to make it worthwhile, I will simply unregister.

Because I needed to go through our DVD and VHS collection to pull the VHS tapes and sell them, I decided to reorganize that entire bookshelf again. I used to have the movies labeled in categories color coordinated for their age ratings--actually, with my age ratings. However no one, but me, really put the movies back by category except for the children's videos. I also used to have them inventoried but the program being free is now no longer being updated so I looked for something free online and found iTrackMine. Now I know that we have over 300 DVDs and I am getting rid of the duplicates plus some that were just plain horrible choices. This time I bought little color dots instead of making a dot with markers, so we have blue for G, green for PG, yellow for PG-13, and red for R with the children and family videos on the lower shelves and the reds on the top shelf. The Princess helped with dusting each one and placing them in categories, which I did not bother to label this time because what would be the point? These days I am usually the one who puts them back where they belong anyway. Now I need to do something with those music CDs also.

We had to replace the compressor for the air conditioner in our van on Friday. That was about $200 dollars more than we had expected it to be. Quite costly, but I really would not want to go without air conditioning in the van with summer coming...if summer ever does come because we keep getting cold snaps in waves as if we are just being teased with warmer temperatures before the next one; tomorrow night the low is expected to dip into the 20's again!

This past Saturday my husband was required to attend the chaperone meeting at Living Science from 9 to 12. I was to clean at the school this weekend as well, so I choose to clean in the classroom building, which has only two large science classrooms, as the other building would be occupied with the meeting. I wish I had taken the pay $50 option instead of cleaning because the classroom building was not vacant, but filled with high school students in the Servant Leader program. All the Princess and I could really clean was the bathrooms and the foyer around the bookbags and kids, which we did and gave up on the classrooms. Last fall I paid because it is an hour drive for us just to get to the school and then there is about three hours worth of cleaning to be done. I pay half the $50 in gas and then it is half of my day shot when I have plenty of house and yard work to do at home. I would not have even attempted it this time if my husband did not have to be there for that meeting. Being thrifty, I do not like paying the money, but weighing it out I also consider my time to be valuable.

Since we were in the area, I stopped by to give my friend, the Princess' piano teacher, an ozonator to borrow as she had smoke damage in her house again. This is the third time she has smoke damage in about three years. Her first insurance company dropped her after the second one which was just a few months after the first time. She simply started cooking something and forgot about it...all three times. This time she felt she could not report it to her insurance company and was washing everything she could herself with a few friends helping. The ozonator would be able to treat the remaining smoke smells, we are hoping. So after a short visit there, we ate out and then started for home.

That same evening our church was hosting a concert but even if we had remembered, it would have been too much to do in one day. We did enjoy the singing couple for church service yesterday morning.

This week we are focused on the Princesss' science presentation and the expedition. Her father has been working with her on the 3-D model of the habitat for the endangered red wolf. So timely, as he had worked with someone recently who had a passion and experience for building an impressive train model, who gave him some great advice. I gladly have taken a hands-off approach so they could do this project together, but I will be working with her on the presentation itself and possibly help her paint the wolf figurines she got.

We have to get certain items for the expedition also. Mostly the Princess is concerned about finding cheap tennis shoes that she has been told she will need to toss away after the expedition as they will be using them in the river and swamp areas. We are going to look for them today when I go out to make my consignment sale drop off.

Oh, and my husband for the very first time in his life was summoned for jury duty. "We don't have anything going on the week of April 14th, do we?" No, honey....just the science expedition! He jumped on that right away last Monday and his differral has been approved so he will be serving in the middle of May instead.

I am looking forward to five days all to myself in April...well, not completely to myself as there are the furry ones. I have a couple projects in mind to do without concerns about being in the way of anyone else and without any interruptions.

~ My Lord, so much more to do. Let me not waste time on things of little importance to You. ~

Thursday, March 6, 2014

2014 Sping Consignment Sales

If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it. ~Olin Miller

I am again preparing for two spring consignment sales. I enjoy getting the checks from the sales so that it helps pay for my daughter's wardrobe for the coming season. I enjoy shopping consignment sales to get good clothes at very low prices. However, I cannot say that I enjoy this part of the task.

Over the years, my daughter has turned the guest room, the one room in my home that always used to look as if it was ready and just waiting for a visitor to stay there, into her own personal dumping zone and clutter just overwhelms me. I have asked her to keep it organized with all the clothes hung, but her idea of organized and mine differ. It is difficult for me to plow through, organize the items I wish to sell, and tag everything because no matter how I do it, it still has that clutter quality until most of it is dropped off at the sale. This time I choose the earliest drop off on Monday morning.

Even after dropping off what will be allowed in the spring sale, I still have some fall items that will be waiting for half a year, which increase in number and bulk by the fall. Clutter...it just drives me crazy, especially when it is unending as it has become in my guest room. My husband has suggested several times that I could just give away the outgrown clothes and I toy with that thought until I start adding up the potential net pay from the sales.

That thrifty side of me just cannot get past that these sales generally pay for at least half (most of the time more) of the cost of the clothes I will be buying for the Princess and it is getting more difficult to find consignment clothes for her. She is more particular, as expected with this age, as she is exploring her own sense of style and there are fewer modest styles for her size--I am thankful that modesty is still important to her. In addition, we cannot have her try on clothes at most of these sales, which means more of the clothes we do get may not fit her well as her body is morphing from her former willowy shape to one with more curves.

Still, I have to keep working on this task, because I am hoping to not have to mess with it much this weekend so I can spend time with my husband. He is feeling better and hopes to be coming home tomorrow evening. Now that I have written out my goals, perhaps I will be motivated to get it all done by tomorrow afternoon.

~ My Lord, it is difficult to stay motivated to finish preparing for the consignment sales, so I surrender my desire to procrastinate finishing this task to You. ~

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Career Concerns

[I wish you] health enough to make work a pleasure. Wealth enough to support your needs. Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them. Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them. Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished. Charity enough to see some good in your neighbour. Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others. Faith enough to make real the things of God. Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.
~Johann von Goethe

I tend to get anxious about the future, especially with sudden unexpected changes that could have a bad effect on it. One income families, such as ours, are so reliant on that one job that any change ripples into our family carrying a potential dread.

My husband's manager handed in her resignation in February, taking a lesser position job in another company. She stated she wanted to spend more time with her family, but my husband felt there was more to it than just that. He could hear her frustration over the last few months with trying to affect change and none being made. One thing she did disclose on her last day was that she had suggested promoting my husband to a couple of positions, but she was met with excuses like he is too valuable where he is or he is too moody—the latter happens when he gets overworked while others (are these not so valuable?) get to stay home and maybe answer phones or wait for a machine to break.

I had am empathic feeling when two other inexperienced men were promoted some weeks ago that his manager was unhappy. She also did say that she had hoped to surround herself with people who were willing to help her make the changes she wanted work, but that her choices were met with rejection. When she confronted one man about his attitude with customers and employees, she was told to back off instead of helping him to improve.

It must have been terribly frustrating for her, so I am hoping she finds what she needs in her next job.

So, while we are praying about his company finding the next manager, my husband continues to deal with his own frustrations. He was told that he is the only field service engineer that the customers request, which may be contributing factor as to why he is sent out more than most. Now, I am not particularly business savvy, but it seems to me that if I had an employee with such a good reputation with my customers and had such high technical skills, that I would like to clone him. I would create a position so that he trains others in the field to not only have better hands on training as to how to fix the machines but also know how to talk to customers so that they are pleased with the service for which they are paying. My company would then have the best of employees to share the workload rather than burning out a few while others are doing little.

It seems practical to me, but that is probably because I did not go to a business college to learn the most impractical ways to run a business. We have seen the same scenarios played out over many years. If not related to someone high up in the company, those who make the biggest fuss or already live close to the home office are the ones who get promoted, even if they are not the best fit for the position and it rarely works out well.

Anyway, God has a purpose and timing for all things, so for now I am just surrendering my husband's career into His hands. He does what seems impossible so very well.

~ My Lord, I surrender my husband's career to You. I am thankful he is employed and paid well. I would like to see him get recognition for his work so that it honors You, so that people see a difference in him because he calls himself Christian, because You are in his heart, and because You are his Master. ~

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pieces of My Heart

God can heal a broken heart, but He has to have all the pieces. ~Unknown

One of my dearest friends and I had a phone conversation on Sunday. She was very depressed and as she voiced her fears, I was thinking that I would have said much the same this past year. You see, she is alone, divorced decades ago and has been alone ever since. Both her parents have passed on and even her ex-husband who also never married after the divorce. She was an only child, was unable to have children, and it seems that relationships with her cousins are dysfunctional. Being in her sixties, she is having increasing health issues and when she is sick or in more pain she feels unloved and gets depressed.

As I listened to her voice her fears, I heard the echoes of how I had felt most of last year. The only family members who talk to me is my aunt and uncle, even though I have two sisters and a brother and four cousins. My husband was traveling for work more than he was home and my daughter was going teenager on me. I was not feeling well overall and felt my health was beginning to fail me.

Trying to help my friend through my own experience, I reminded her of something I had shared a few weeks ago that my Lord recently asked me if there was just one thing that I would asked to be healed that He would promise to heal it what would it be and I had answered my heart, which I mentioned in The Fast is Working. She then asked me how that was going for me and I replied that it was a process, but her question stuck with me and I really began probing my thoughts and feelings about it.

I was very much feeling like my friend for most of last year, so here I was sympathizing with her but also rejoicing because I could so clearly see the contrast of where I was and where I am now. I am not depressed as I was nor as unhappy with life nor as fearful of my Lord. Now when I hear my Lord tell me that He loves me, I do not try to run from it or deflect it with feelings of unworthiness as I probably have all of my life. Now I simply say, "I love you too" and smile at myself because it makes me happy that He loves me instead of sad because I do not deserve it. He loves me. It is like a mother naturally loves her baby even though the baby has done nothing to deserve it but to exist. God just loves me. (Smiling here.) Oh, and if He loves me, He loves you too. He just loves you. He is telling you that every day. (Are you smiling?)

My heart is healing, or perhaps has been healed, and the other physical things I had been praying that He would heal are also being healed, because God is not stingy about blessings. I thought I was being receptive, but actually I was only being receptive if God did it the way I thought I wanted it. I have seen so many, so very many, people do this and wondered why they just could not let go and let God do it His way. It is so easy to see it in the lives of others and even easier to be blinded to it in your own, it seems.

It is a work in progress, not God's healing of my heart, but my recognition of His healing. The best way to heal one's heart is to surrender it to the Lord...all of one's heart...every single little piece.

~ Thank you, my Lord, for healing my heart. ~