Monday, February 21, 2011

The Magic Question.

 As many of you probably know, I really enjoy meeting strangers.  and I have found that the most common "stranger" I come across is the average store teller. You know, the person who is checking you out at the grocery store, the gas station, McDonalds, the post office, the coffee shop... etc etc.

I have found that the easiest way to take the conversation from your average business transaction to an actual relational interaction is as easy as one magical little question:

"So how's your day going?"

This is a miraculous question.  It has yet to fail me in becoming more friendly with a person.  Immediately, walls come down.  This question makes the person who is being asked feel genuinely cared for.  (and only ask it if you, in fact, genuinely care) Tonight, for example, I was at Meijer and the lady checking me out ran through her usual inquiries about whether or not I have coupons or bottle slips and as I was paying (which is the best time to ask the question, by the way.  It's the only point that you're really in control of the situation.  So I usually ask as I'm swiping my card or getting out cash) I threw out a variation of the magical question: "So, how's your night going?"  and then she told me about how boring it had been and how she was surprised by how slow it was and then we talked about the weather and the roads and she told me to drive safe and I said the same back to her.  The magic question was a success yet again!

I'm serious, friends.  It's the easiest way to let someone know that you actually care about them as a human being and not just as the person who is going to give you what you want (food, money back, stamps, etc etc).  I particularly love asking when I can tell that the person has had a bad day, or is having a bad moment. Like when the line at Subway is 20 people long.  I like to ask then, because of course life is a little crazy at that moment, you know? and to acknowledge the craziness and ask how they're doing in the middle of it injects a little humanity into moments of mayhem.

As I was sharing the magic phrase with Josh, he brought up a great question.  Why is it better than "How are you?"? In my opinion, it is because "how are you" has become another form of "hello".  It's a very rare moment when someone asks "How are you?" out of genuine curiosity of the state of your heart.  Taking the time in the middle of a transaction or formal conversation to say "So, how's your day going?" breaks whatever script the person you are communicating with is used to.  

Please, try it!  You will make someone else feel cared about and important and you yourself will feel like a million bucks for making them feel that way.  (and if you DO try it, please tell me about it!)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Clothing with a Cause.

This week I got another pair of Toms shoes!
It's been about a year since I got my first pair, and I've been wanting another pair for a while...

So last week I decided to purchase them, and I didn't buy just any old Toms shoe, I bought the silver glitter pair. I was SO excited when Mr. UPS man pulled up with my sparkly shoes on Tuesday! (I had been tracking them every day since I bought them haha) so I knew he was coming. Aware of my excitement, Josh exclaimed: "::gasp:: There he is!" when he spotted the big brown truck at the neighbors house. I kind of wanted to sit in the window and wave to him as he forged his way down the long, slushy driveway to our house, but I held myself back.   I did meet him at the door, however, but was outdone in my enthusiasm when Buddy actually ran outside to meet him as he was walking away. Oops. Good thing he's a little dog, eh?  Buddy loves Mr. UPS man and isn't as shy about showing it as I am.  One time, he even ran outside and jumped into his truck to say hello.

Anyway, I love the vision behind Toms shoes.  When you buy a pair, they send a pair of shoes to a child in need.  It's an awesome organization and I love supporting them.  PLUS, their shoes are super cute and super comfy.  So really it's a win-win-win-win situation. 

("Oooooh Ahhhhhh") 

Buddy is a fan of Toms shoes as well.  He's also a fan of the little squirrel stuffed animal in the lower right corner that I got him for Valentine's Day.  He has completely ravaged it so that you can no longer tell it's actually a squirrel, but that little lump of cloth has provided hours of entertainment for him!

Another fun piece of clothing that has a great cause behind it is this necklace:

My friend Suzanne gave me this necklace in January.  It is from the an organization called Save Street Children Uganda.  They are all about saving kids from the street, giving them an education, helping them to find a craft they can do to generate an income, and turning them towards Christ.  This necklace was made by some of the kids in their program.  The beads are made of tiny pieces of rolled up paper.  It is really beautiful and it made me feel really loved when I opened it.  Because Suzanne saw the necklace, thought of me, and then bought it and sent it my way.  Isn't that just amazing?  She's a great friend and this is a beautiful accessory with an awesome message behind it!

Do you have any clothing that has a hidden message behind it?  If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Youth Ministry is VERY serious business, you guys....

Tonight at youth group we played "Steal the Bacon".
The teens were split into two groups.
Each person in each group was given a number. 
Starting at 1 up to however many people were in the group.
Items were placed in the middle of the two groups.

Each item had varying point values:
A baby doll: 15 points. 
(Later, "The baby doll's arm" was also in its own category worth points. Ha.)
A diaper: 10 points
A pillow: 3 points
Black Tube: 1 point
Ball: 5 points.
Joshua: 25 points

When Josh called out a number (or two or three) the people who were given that number ran to the middle and tried to retrieve as many objects as they could in an effort to earn as many points as they could. They had to be ready to dive into the center at all times to pillage as many items as they could.  

Like a bunch of little vikings.

Team One (Pictures from junior high only!)

Team Two

The Battle for Points: Advantage Team One!

The Battle for Points: Advantage Team Two! (Team one came around and won this one, actually)

Joshua sacrificing himself for 25 points with extreme reservations.

The final battle for points: My husband.

I was laughing hysterically at this point, and I think Josh has a few rug burns to show off, but it was a great game with the teens!  

P.S. Just a little update, the url of my blog is going to change in the next month or so. Our plans to go overseas require that our full names aren't on things like our email, blogs, and maybe even facebook.  So, that being said, my current URL doesn't exactly meet that criteria.  So, unless someone steals the blog address "" in the next few weeks, that is what I will be changing mine to. Keep an eye out for it!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


"She was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, and of beauty." 
-Princess Diana's brother, The Earl of Spencer, during his speech at her funeral.

Last night, my Mom and I went to see the Princess Diana exhibit at the Grand Rapids Art Museum.  We had to buy our tickets a week in advance, because the exhibit is leaving town this Wednesday and the weekends were selling out quickly!

The exhibit was exquisite.  I left feeling so inspired by the life that she lived, and so saddened that it was cut short. I admired the fact that she used the attention and fame that she married into to turn the world's eyes towards causes she cared about.  There were stories from people who had met her who talked about her warmth, her charisma, and how she immediately knew how to relate to everyone she came in contact with.  She wasn't afraid to touch them, hug them, or talk with them.  In fact, I appreciated learning that she helped dispel the stigma around both leprosy and AIDS by publicly touching people who were afflicted with the each disease.

The exhibit showcased her family history, her childhood belongings, her extravagant wedding dress with all of her wedding day accessories, information about the charities and organizations that were important to her, videos and speeches from her funeral, and a wide variety of some of her famous outfits.

Unfortunately (and predictably) photos weren't permitted, but it was truly spectacular and like I said, it left me feeling very inspired.  Inspired to live my life out of a deep love for humanity.  It made me want to reach out and touch people, literally, and not be afraid to do it.  The way she rested her hand on others and listened to them in many of the pictures that were displayed was so affectionate and so warm and it pointed out to me that I don't touch people very often.  I hug, but I don't just touch for the sake of connection.

The best part of the entire night was that I got to be with my fun Mum the whole time.  We laughed a lot with each other and we laughed a lot with strangers (I got my enjoyment of talking with people I don't know from her) and we giggled profusely at the things like silly coat racks, pill boxes, and the gift shop's "no refunds" policy. 

The normal coat racks were full, so we had to go to a back room that had more, many more, available hangers for our coats.  However, there was an average height coat rack, and a tall one.  We stood looking at the tall rack for several seconds, trying to figure out how anyone would actually get their coats up there when we finally saw it: a handle.  Soooo we took pictures with what we considered to be a very funny coat rack, and despite the fact that there were PLENTY of empty hangers at our height, we decided it would be way more fun to hang ours up top!

It was a delightful evening!

I know this last picture is blurry, but the twinkle in my Mom's eye is precious and I just had to include it!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Elephant in the Church.

Our church is doing a new series on sex, love, and relationships called "The Elephant in the Church".  It's going to be an eight week study of the rather risqué book in the Bible called Song of Solomon (It is such a steamy book that, historically, Jewish children weren't even allowed to read it until they were 12 years old...)  I'm going to go ahead and predict that a lot of blushing is going to be taking place in our little church in the next couple of months...  :)

To set the mood of the series, our pastor asked me if I would find some great quotes, movie clips, and the perfect song in hopes of putting it all together to create a "trailer" of sorts that would play right before his sermon.  Well, I scoured movies and youtube and itunes and brought all of the material I found (with the help of my best friend Nicole) to our resident tech man, Dave, and he put it all together beautifully.  It was exactly what I envisioned it to be.

Most of the quotes are from Song of Solomon, and the song is called "To Build a Home" by The Cinematic Orchestra.  I'm really excited about the way it turned out!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow forts, snow days, and the Cone of Shame.

"Snowpocalypse 2011" is what people have been calling the storm that just rolled through the Midwest.  The title might lean a little towards the dramatic side of things, I think, but it's a somewhat accurate picture of the last 30 hours or so, I suppose.  It was definitely the biggest blizzard and snow storm I've ever been a part of, and actually I was really excited for it to get here!  I could sense the anticipation in the air.  Everyone was getting ready to have the exact same experience: an enormous snow storm.  It was exciting!  Since January was an uneventful month, I was really looking forward to a little excitement.

After the storm started, I did what any not so confident snow driver would do:  I went and got a manicure, haha.  What can I say?  I like having my nails done and now that all of my clumsy wounds are healed, I could actually go do it!  I think I got their speedy version of a manicure, though, considering there was a blizzard underway outside...

After I got home, Josh and I decided to ride out part of the storm in the snow fort he has been working on the last few weeks.  It was my first time in the fort, but I must say that I was very impressed with his handy work!  We had several amenities that average snow forts don't have.  For example, a built in chimney (aka a strategically placed hole in the roof) allowed us to enjoy a cozy fire. We also had some blankets, vanilla chai, and even candles were burning in "shelves" carved out into the snow.  I must say that it was impressive work and amazingly, it got pretty warm in there.  (Not warm enough for any funny business, though... I know what you're thinking... what with the candles and all..) and we enjoyed our time out there.  We could hear the wind blowing outside, but inside we were enjoying the peace and adventure of being *technically* outside for a whole hour in the blizzard.

Our only picture inside the snow fort before the camera died...
When we woke up today, I was so excited and hopeful that I would have a snow day at work.  We live out in Ionia county, where snow removal is very delayed. So I was really, really hoping for a snow day.  Except, my boss called and said he would come pick me up at home if I was too nervous to drive myself. Despite his offer, I clung to the hope of a snow day all morning.  I even saw a snow plow get stuck on the road in front of our house several times over the course of an hour... and when it got stuck in our driveway.... Josh went and helped them dig out.

So my hope was not unfounded! I thought surely my boss would see reason and not come get me.  But oh no... he did.  About two hours before I actually had to be at work, he called and said he was on his way.  To say I had a bad attitude about it is a huge understatement.  I was so ridiculously disappointed.  and maybe even a little angry.  I understood he's a business owner and everything, and my logical side kept telling me that it made perfect sense... but my emotional side was indignant and stuck on the serious lack of justice that I was clearly a victim of (ha). and you know what?  I just really couldn't shake the negative emotions today.  It was a terrible feeling for someone who can usually control her emotions fairly well.  

Really, I felt like a small child who was desperately hoping for a snow day because every other school was closed. and not only was school NOT closed, but my teacher was coming to personally pick me up (an hour and a half early) to ensure my attendance.  and then, once I got there, I was forced to do the same work (massage) on the same subjects (patients) that I did every other day and every other week. and just when it looked like I might get to go home early, the teacher found more work for me to do.

Torture, my friends.  Torture.  

But, I did get paid... (attempting to be positive) and there are worse things in life than going to work when I was supposed to go to work, you know?  But I think it was just the whole "unmet expectations" thing that was so devastating.  (Unmet expectations are always devastating, aren't they?)

My night got better though when we closed at 7:00. My best friend Nicole and her hubby picked me up from work.  They brought me in their 4 wheel drive vehicle to McDonalds to get me a diet coke which made me feel better... and when I got home I walked in to see Buddy looking like this:

The poor little guy got neutered yesterday. and he's having a really hard time not licking himself (something he struggles with on a normal day as well haha) So Josh took extra precautions and put cones of shame cones on his front AND his back.  Honestly, I'm laughing as I type this.... oh it's so terribly cute in a really sad way.  The snow is so deep that the cone around his head acts as a sort of shovel as Buddy dives through the drifts in our backyard. Bad timing for the ole' snip snip, I think.  Anyway, due to the fact that these pictures are making me laugh harder than I have all day (I like to take note of that sort of thing), I'm going to post a few more for your viewing pleasure:

Ohhhh the joy this little puppy brings me.  I hope you're all smiling, too!