Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Soap Opera Dreams

Ok, I’m about to admit something I never thought I would publicly announce but here goes….. I’m addicted to a soap opera. Days of Our Lives to be more specific or DOOL as its fans know it. I love several of the actors and actresses on the show as well such as Alison Sweeney, Shawn Christian, Molly Burnett , and James Scott, even though lots of their storylines are a little farfetched. Still, I watch every episode on my DVR, waiting anxiously to see what will happen next and who will find out the big secrets first! This is what I’d call a guilty indulgence. Of course I know that half of what I watch would never happen or that things don’t happen in real life the way that they play out on the show. That’s what makes it all the better. You know that they are not abiding by the same rules as the rest of the universe so anything is possible and there are usually surprises revealed that you never expected. The best part of watching my soap is that it momentarily takes me into the story and therefore pulls my mind away from all my worries in my own real world.

Recently, I had a dream as I have had in the past about something that is not going to happen in reality. It was one of those clear, beautifully detailed dreams where a loved one who has passed returns as if they have been on vacation. You get to see them, hear them, and hug them again, while questioning where they have been. For a moment in that dream, it’s just so real and exciting that you wish you wouldn’t wake up for hours. I’m sure many others have had similar dreams to mine which is what I’ve labeled my “Soap Opera Dreams”.

While explaining why I enjoy watching my soap, I can’t help but laugh and think, “Did you hear what you just said? God can make my life a soap opera as well.” With God in my life, anything is possible and time spent with him can take my mind off the things of this world that don’t matter. And don’t forget, there are little unexpected surprises along the way. Some of them are good and some are not but regardless of which, they keep life interesting and the storyline is always changing. If you happen to be a fan of DOOL or another soap opera yourself for the same reasons, try to remember that with God, we live out those Soap Opera Dreams!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dirty Socks

There are not many things I find more frustrating than enjoying a moment of satisfaction in the completion of my work just before realizing that I missed something. This happened recently when I was doing laundry. I began with a feeling of intimidation as I faced this huge mountain of what I thought just had to be at least 10 loads of laundry. Of course, it ended up being more like 5 but still it consumed quite of bit of my day to load the washer, switch to dryer, fold and put away all those clothes. By the end of the day (or night rather), I felt great satisfaction as I looked at the empty bottom of the clothes basket and shut the doors on the washer and dryer. Feeling very accomplished and probably even smiling, I made my way into my bedroom to begin my nightly “before bed” ritual. As I rounded the corner, my face fell in disgust and horror. There, in the middle of the bedroom floor laid a pair of dirty socks. How could I have missed them as I walked in and out of this room throughout the day?!? There they were; a reminder that I had not completed all of the laundry. While it seems quite trivial, any person who has experienced this moment understands what a feeling of defeat it can bring over you.

Because I am an optimist, I consider it a personal challenge to find the good in every situation. So here goes my farfetched attempt. I wonder if this is how God sometimes feels about his people. He tries so hard to guide us in the right direction and then, after much perseverance, we begin to move. Soon, we are on fire for God and growing closer to him. Just when he thinks it is ok to relax a little and let his guard down, Wham! Dirty socks! Our sins start to come out again and he realizes his work will never be finished. I am reminded of the children’s song, “He’s Still Working on Me”. That is so true and we’d do well to never forget it. If God doesn’t get discouraged with us, then we should never get discouraged in our work. Just remember to be thankful that God continues to work on us and will not leave us finished!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Customer Service - really?!?

Think back to your past 5 dealings with a person who is in a job labeled “Customer Service”. How many of those have been positives experiences? Why do employers even add that to the job description anymore? According to my own experiences, to effectively do most jobs today that deal with the public, one must simply take up space and do the bare minimum to avoid being fired. I feel justified in speaking on the subject because I have worked in several positions that deal with the public. I completely understand that any job in which a person must provide some service to people in our society is very challenging. These jobs are often the hardest jobs there are. Not only do these people usually get paid the minimum but they are also expected to multitask and often take the brunt of nasty customer attitudes. However, that being said, I still expect to receive good customer service when I’m paying for it and I don’t believe that my expectations are too high.
God’s word says to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing: in everything give thanks; for this is
God's will for you in Christ Jesus”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Abiding by his word, we should rejoice in our work, no matter what the job. Most people seem miserable in their work for different reasons. Whether or not a person is overworked or underpaid has absolutely nothing to do with the customer so why is it the boss that’s often respected and given honor? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that an employee disrespect the employer; I’m only implying that the anger is being directed towards the wrong person. I’ve tried several angles when interacting with a less than desirable customer service worker. Nothing seems to work. Then I only make myself resentful wondering why I should be the one trying so hard to get something which I’m paying for already. My point to all this is “Why are we so accepting of less that the best?” It’s almost as though we’ve come to expect poor service in most places so we accept it. I don’t believe a person in customer service should have to deal with a disrespectful attitude. I do think they should treat me with some common courtesy when I have a polite attitude. That brings me to the next point. Why then, when I politely suggest to a person who is treating me poorly am I considered to be the bad guy when I am assertive about getting what I’ve paid for, whether it be a product or a service. Why is that I end up having to apologize and feel uneasy when I’m only trying to get what I am owed? Someone please enlighten me on this. If this were an infrequent happening, I’d chalk it up to an intermittent bad day or bad apple. However, considering how often this happens and how many people I’ve heard complain, I’m sure this isn’t just an occasional occurrence.
Now, I’ll try to get to the bottom of all this. Perhaps I am the only person who feels like this is so common. If that’s the case, maybe God is giving me these opportunities to display his love and kindness. Therefore, I need to take advantage of these times and do as he would have me do. I am reminded of a woman who worked for a company with which I had a loan. Because this company did not send out statements or set up automatic payments, she would call me each month to set up the payment. (Not common but it worked for both of us) Each month, I knew when to expect her and we would set up the payment as usual without any excess conversation but we were polite to each other. One month she called and the payment arrangement was different and not what I expected. When I questioned it, she became impatient and almost rude. So, me being me, I questioned her mood. I said to her “You are usually so polite and kind! Why is there a change in your attitude today?” This statement completely took her by surprise and there was a long silent pause. After a moment, I heard her say, “You’re completely right and I apologize. I am having a bad day and should not have taken it out on you. You see, my son was in a terrible accident about a week ago and the doctors are saying that he was lucky to survive and that now my Charles may never walk again.” At that point, the conversation became personal and God’s presence became so evident. After talking in depth for several minutes about her situation, we ended the call on a sweet note (after making my payment of course). She thanked me for listening and caring and most importantly for reminding her that the situation did not have to define her. I believe we both learned a lesson that day which I’ve never forgotten. Expect the best from people and accept no less. While doing so, be patient and understanding because we may not always know what’s going on in the lives of the people we encounter. In those times that the experience ends on a bad note, realize that you have still shown the love of God to another, as commanded. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” 1 Corinthians 13:4

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Time Flies

Although I had not forgotten that I have a blog, I did put it on the proverbial back burner for more than a year because it fell on my list of priorities. For a quick update, Austin is currently playing football and in the sixth grade. He's a challenge for me but I think perhaps its because we are a bit alike. Yes, I now have a middle schooler who in some ways reminds me of myself and I'm not sure how I feel about that just yet. Alex is playing tee ball and dancing; ballet to be more specific. As usual, she excels at both. She has also started first grade this year and we are still at home. We are taking it year by year and so far, we like it. Ashlyn is also playing tee ball and taking a ballet/tumble class. Thankfully, she doesn't need to play ball well yet because she's so cute you can't help but smile. She also seems to prefer the gymnastics part of her class over the dancing which came as a surprise to me. Still, I'm glad that all three children are happy with what they are doing. We have joined a Community Bible Study which we attend once a week and of course, we are attending church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Unfortunately, my husband misses most of these things with the exception of some of their Saturday games because he works so much. We all stay busy but I remind myself often to enjoy this because I know that one day I will miss it. I am still in school working on my "to do by the time I'm 30" list. Obviously, I'm a little behind schedule but I feel better by telling myself that at least I'm not idle which means I'm still moving forward. I've also picked up a few hours of work which I fit in when I can but am hoping to do more as soon as I find a few extra hours in my day. Because of my lack of free time, my blog has suffered. I have been thinking lately that instead of feeling like I have to come up with new material, why don't I post some of the things I've already written for some of my classes? After all, its my material and most of it is blog appropriate. So, that's what I'll be posting for a while. Here goes the first one.

In our culture today, the Christian gospel is often perceived as outdated and sometimes even foolish. In a world in which celebrities set the standards for normal and money equals control and power, the very idea of placing our faith and beliefs into a man who walked the earth centuries ago seems insane. With millions of followers watching, Oprah once said that “There are many paths to what you call God” and “there couldn't possibly be just one way”. These followers have now been led down the wrong path and it would be difficult to convince them otherwise. If most religions are offering a way that will let a person act according to their emotions, and in which the basis of all works are simply to make one feel good and be happy, then why would a non believer choose Christianity? In addition, if most of the world’s most intellectual and most influential people are not following the teaching of the gospel, then a person would be silly to simply accept this person Christians call Jesus. After all, you can’t even physically see him and his teachings are to a world that doesn’t exist in today’s culture! Beginning to address these objections will require Christians to be better prepared with their witness. We need to try to understand a person’s objections in order to overcome them and answer their questions in a way that they will understand the Christian perspective. We must first gain interest before we can effectively state our purpose and beliefs when we share our testimonies. Credibility goes a long way in spreading the good news to the world!