Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Kids + Camera = Cute!

My phone is not a tech gadget used by everyone in the home.  You will rarely find me handing my phone over to the kids in a restaurant so they can play games or watch videos.  I know plenty of moms do - it's just my preference that my kids know that my phone is MY tool and not their toy.

From time to time, Teagan will pick up my phone so she can "check the weather."  Mostly because that's about all she knows how to do on my phone.

Until the other morning when she figured out how to use the camera.  To take selfies.

And when I discovered them, while at work, I laughed and laughed!

And of course, once Zach saw them, he wanted some of his own...

I think I might need to loosen up m ypolicy on phone usage a bit.  because the smiles that these pics have generated is well worth it!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lessons from a Food Show

Last night, I was very excited to attend the 26th annual Indianapolis Fruit Company Food Show.  This is only the second year that bloggers have been included - it's a trade show for farmers, distributors, grocery stores, etc.  Many of the vendors weren't quite sure what a blogger was doing there while others quickly embraced and understood the power of "word of mouth" in social media.

Food porn galore.  I ate more than I can remember.  I had a plum, I actually enjoyed raw turnip, several salsas and dips, picked up a huge artichoke, and got to try many fun snacks.

There was food at every turn, people to talk to and an amazing array of fruits, veggies, and more.

But that wasn't my favorite part of the event.

It wasn't seeing some blogging friends.  It wasn't meeting The Produce Mom.  It wasn't even the open bar.

It was sitting down to eat a fajita and finding myself at a table with a man, his 2 sons, and his son-in-law.  This man has given almost 40 years to the food business, primarily in grocery.  He currently owns a grocery store in a small town in Illinois.

He and I sat and talked for a bit about operating a small market in the era of big savings at super stores - Wal Mart and Super Target and Meijer.

He has no bitterness toward some of those companies.  He admires the chains that have started small and grown (like local Indiana grocery store, Marsh, that was family owned and still has many of the Marsh family working there).  He does not admire the big stores that bully their way into a community, bully their way through relationships, bully their way in the business.  He said he has survived only because he's in a small town and the closest national chain big store is at least 30 miles away.

He's a man who just likes being part of his community and there are few ways to be so important to a community than through food.

And that's why being part of this food trade show was so incredible - I got to eat and drink and visit.  But more than that, I got to rub elbows with people who are part of one of the main fabrics of America.  Food. Farms. Fruits and veggies.

(and now I am craving an apple or a salad or something!!)


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Eden Chapel UMC #IAmEden

I had a special opportunity to visit a different church this past Sunday.  We were out of town for the weekend - visiting family and also having lots of Grown Up Time while the kids stayed with Grandma.

A guy I knew in high school that I have since becomes friends with since reconnecting on Facebook is the pastor of a church and I have wanted to go visit his church for a while now.  And this past weekend, I had my chance.

And what's funny is that part of me knew what I was walking into and part of me didn't until we were there.

Cincinnati is a city with a lot to offer.  There are big companies - great places to work.  There is fantastic history in the city.  There's a great riverfront. Tons of things for families to do and tons of things for couples to do.  Lots of nightlife, arts, museums, etc.

Cincinnati, in my experience, is also a city that has a bit of a unique situation when it comes to the neighborhoods of the city.

Neighborhoods, in general, tend to have a cultural/ethnic majority of some sort, right?  I look at the suburb where I live, the nieghborhood I specifically live in, and I see that the majority of the families are white.  But I also see some black families, some hispanic families, and some indian and middle eastern families.

In Cincinnati, neighborhoods tend to be pretty strongly divided by economic class and by race.

My friend's church is in a very old Cincy neighborhood.  It's an old river town and the population is primarily white, working class, and politically conservative.

My friend is pretty much the opposite of that.  OK - completely.

The church is 150 years old.  He is their first pastor who is a black male.

It's been a year.  In fact, they thanked him for his one year anniversary when we were there on Sunday.

Church was great.  It is a small church on a gorgeous piece of land.  It's peaceful and quiet.  There is a lovely community garden.  We really just made ourselves at home.  People knew we were guests but didn't quite seem to know how to approach us.  A woman from the choir did come over and say hello and was friendly.  Church started and it was a more classic style of worship in the Methodist church.  More liturgy, more old hymns.  Different from the contemporary music we sing in our home church.

But my friend, Pastor Peter, fills the place with warmth and love.

In that small space, he spoke so intimately with everyone there.  In prayer, he purposefully and graciously and warmly invited the Holy Spirit to fill the space, to open our hearts.  He encouraged everyone in the room to open their hearts and minds in prayer, to focus on worship, to intercede in prayer on someone's behalf.  He taught the congregation about some of the fundamentals of Methodism that are being taught throughout the faith right now - about Fruitful Living through passionate worship and risk taking missions.  He preached.  He preached!! And in his message, he spoke about the pain in the nation right now.  He read words from Dr. King.  He wove this message that talked about the pain and hurt in the nation and in all of us as individuals but also the need for worship and what worship means - that we have to come seeking help (and we all need God's help somewhere in our lives), that we have to believe that "God Can!" and that we are there to worshipa nd findout the How, and we have to be open to healing.

After church, we spent some time with my friend and his wife and a member of his congregation.  We spoke about the challenges he has faced coming into this church and community.  We talked about the growth that has happened.  We talked about the fantastic things the church is doing to reach out into the community.  We talked about church and church leadership and their future plans and hurdles.

And I'll be blunt and possibly hurt some feelings or offend or make your eyebrows go up when I say...

I walked away from the experience still shaking my head that I sat in a congregation made up of primarily older, conservative, white working class as they accepted and heard a strong black man preach about what love really means, preach about loving and accepting all of our brothers and sisters - black, white, yellow, brown, straight, gay.

And I walked away filled with hope.  Inspired.  Eager to see what this congregation will continue to do in this community.  Because I woke that morning and my heart broke when I learned of the verdict in the Zimmerman trial.  And then I found myself in a place where there is a lot of cultural swing and shift and change happening - where black and white are coming together not only as people but also meshing together as cultures.

Seriously - if it can happen in Sayler Park, it can happen just about anywhere.

If you are in the Cincinnati area, I'd encourage you to take a Sunday morning and go visit Eden Chapel UMC.  Sit and be open to the experience from the time you walk in the door until the service ends.  Pay attention to the assumptions you make in your head - about the church, the sanctuary, the people you encounter.  I know I made them.  I was hesitant when I walked in the door and no one greeted me.  I was hesitant when I saw the choir in robes and the big pipes of the organ.  I was hesitant when I saw all the decorations for Vacation Bible School (going on this week).  But Jeff and I sat and remained open and listened and observed.  And this is a church where God is at work.  This is a congregation that is getting excited about the fullness of a life lived immersed in God's love and mercy and grace.

There is a chance that I will have an opportunity to continue to be connected to Eden Chapel - to continue to say that I Am Eden with that congregation (even from 120 miles away).  That church, that congregation, that community, that pastor friend of mine and his beautiful family... they are in my prayers.  And I hope you will pray for them, too.

Because as you pray for them, you also pray for the rest of our country, our culture, our society.  That the divide can be recognized, named, and conquered through God's grace and mercy.

When I first read this blog post from a worship leader that I follow, Carlos Whitaker, I didn't agree with him.  Until the very end.

"BE Jesus and watch racial, socioeconomic, and cultural lines blur into revival.
Call me a romantic.
But I think Jesus can fix things before we can."
And that's what is really happening in Sayler Park at Eden Chapel UMC.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Sad Face

I don't talk about my job a whole lot.  But I have shared some of my job stress over the past year as my company has made many changes that have had some very negative impacts on me.  After a year of the high stress and depressing consequences, I had to face the fact that I was struggling with depression.

Today is another day to add to the sad pile.

About a year ago, plans were announced to make some changes to our location.  Within a 1 mile radius, for the 13 years that I have worked here, we have had 3 buildings.  1 building houses 2 divisions.  1 building was a warehouse/distribution center with offices.  1 building was a manufacturing location with offices.  Plans were announced to move employees from my division into 1 building - turning our former corporate headquarters (prior to acquisition by Big Business) into a leading site, the true hub for our division.

We began closing down the warehouse/distribution center.  Many jobs from those offices were moved or changed and the number of people in the building reduced.

Hours and days and weeks were spent planning and meeting and drawing and thinking about what the new building would be.  We were excited to have all co-workers under one roof, a bit uncertain about cubicles or open concept environments (we all have private offices right now), excited to think of the state of the art, ahead of the game facility and lab and manfacturing we would have.

Then the budget got cut.  And a need for a warehouse was realized.

So a smaller warehouse nearby was found.

And an office building with half of a floor available was found.

And a new plan was formed.

The existing building would house anyone connected to manufacturing and those who don't need to be connected to manufacturing would move to the new building.

And now a new plan.

No construction.  No moving the lab to this building.  Offices stay as they are in this building.

But those who were slated to move to the new office building - still move.  Still lose our offices, our privacy.  By next Monday, some will be in nice office with great windows (if you're in a high enough job grade).  And some will be in open concept cubes.

I will be sharing a cube with a co-worker.

I'm going from this:

It's a bad pic but you get the idea.  4 walls.  A door.  I'm the first to tell you that I don't need all of what I have.  I don't use the file cabinets.  I use a minimal amount of the space.

But I'm coming to realize how much I value the privacy.  Because of this office with a door and a lock, I was able to pump breastmilk for my babies when I came back to work and there was minimal interruption to my workflow.  Because of this office with a door and lock, I could shut my door when I was just a bit under the weather and still get work done while sneezing into a wad of tissues.  Because of these walls, I didn't have to hear every phone call around me or worry about others hearing my every word.  Because of this privacy, I've not had to worry about people looking over my shoulder as I work.

Until now.

This is my new workspace.  I share it with a co-worker.  She gets the corner on the right, I get the corner on the left.  We share the overhead bin.  Directly behind us and next to us and on the other side of the cubicle wall are more stations set up in the same manner.

This is where my career has landed.

Today, I started packing up my office.  We've had clean up days the past few months and I've already reduced most of what is here.  But now it's final and it's real and the move is coming.  I am packing up my work life.  I am leaving people that I have worked beside for 13 years.  I feel like my parents are kicking me out of the house and into a dorm.  Out of my comfy bedroom that was MINE.  Into a room shared with many others.  Like I'm moving to a cabin for summer camp and forced into a room with many bunk beds... but there won't be a lake and swimming and boating and camp songs and marshmallows.

I'm sad.  I'm sad to leave my office.  My walls and door.  My friends and co-workers.  I am trying to stay focused on the positive, on the new relationships that will strengthen.  I'm very thankful to have a boss that allows the flexibility that will make the new situation a bit better.

But for today, as I pack my drawers and shelves and files and personal items into a carton to be labeled with my cubicle space number and sent on a truck to the new office... for today, I'm sad.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Curse of Popularity?

I wasn't one of the popular kids in school.  I was fortunate to always have a solid group of friends.

But something strange has happened in adulthood.

I think I might be popular.  But I'm not sure what that means.

In junior high and high school, there were clear lines and groups and certain groups were definitely popular.  My personal experience was that the lines were very solidly drawn in junior high.  I changed schools for high school and entered a different educational environment so the groups were still there but the hard lines weren't as hard.  Had I stayed in the school system that my junior high was in, I think the lines would have stayed solid.

In college, I didn't have any lines.  There were groups - but it was based on interests or major or dorm or whatever.  Maybe if I'd gone to a college with a greek culture (sororities and frats), it would have been different.

As an adult... I find that popularity might be more of an individual thing?

I am a confident person.  I try to be authentic and honest and sincere.  I have several people in my life that I consider to be friends or even good friends and a couple people I would like to think of as my best friends.  The circles for these people in my life don't always overlap - another piece of that adulthood puzzle.

Somewhere along the way, I heard someone claim that being popular was hard.  It was back when I was not part of the popular clique in school and I rolled my eyes and dismissed the idea.

But in the past few years, that idea keeps echoing in my head.

It seems that I might be someone that other people like and maybe even enjoy being around.  It seems that some people think highly of my opinions and my input and my ideas.  I put a lot of that out there (*ahem, blogging*) so it's easy for anyone to be "part of me" in some sense.

I've found myself in church leadership and that seems to have impacted my popularity status, too.  There is something about being in any kind of leadership in a church that seems to put you on a different platform.

So here I am... trying to just do the best I can each day... struggling with parenting... suffering through a hard year at work and now enjoying a much better pace and situation... openly talking about how much I adore Christ... baring my soul and opinions on equality and racism and sexism and gay people... blogging... singing... working... parenting... loving... living.

And I've got my family.  And I've got my friends.

And sometimes, who I am and who people think I am slam together and then things aren't so comfortable.

Being confident doesn't mean I don't have feelings.

Spreading a message of love doesn't mean I don't need to feel loved.

Singing every week doesn't mean I don't want to sometimes hear that I did a good job.

Being in leadership of any kind doesn't mean I know anything more than anyone else.

I recently had a conversation where I was told that people want to be my friend.  However, I have to tell you, not many people show it.  Like... I can tell when someone is pleased that I shook their hand or hugged them or stopped to chat.

it is very hard to say what i want to say without sounding completely egotistical

If you like me... please know that I most likely like you, too.  And I want to know that you like me.  If you want to get to know me on a more personal level, I'm all for it.  Yes, it can be a challenge.  I fully admit that I can be a difficult person to be friends with - mostly due to my family's needs and schedule.  But I don't want to love people in a general sense.  I want to authentically care for you - and I long to be cared about by others.  In an authentic way, a real way.

I recently had an experience that has led to some... changes, I think, in some of my relationships.  And part of why it's happened is because people think I don't need them.

I need people.

Just because you think I'm popular or confident or if it seems like I've got my crap together in some special way...

I'm still the dorky junior high kid who was voted Class Bookworm.

I'm still the kid who felt like she was from the wrong side of the tracks in high school.

I'm still the girl who was broken and used.

I'm totally the mom who often feels like a failure or -worse- suddenly realizes that she feels apathy towards the everyday problems that seem to have no solution.

In the eyes of God, I am special and loved and adored.

In the eyes of the world, I'm just a human being.  I'm just me.  I'm just as broken and used and dorky and white trash and whatever else... I've just found a balance.  I've found ways to heal.  I've found ways to lift up.

So maybe I've got this curse of popularity.  I don't really know.  I don't think of myself as popular or any more different or special than most anyone else.  It seems like I'm starting to see people treating me differently... and maybe that's what the curse is all about.

If you think I'm somehow above you or more liked than you or in any way better than you - I'M NOT.

If you think I don't need you... I DO.

If you think I don't care or wouldn't want to be bothered... you're wrong.

One of my main values in life is being authentic in my relationships and I generally think I read people well enough to know if they are being authentic with me.

Sometimes I'm wrong.

But please don't assume that because you think someone is strong or confident or popular that the person doesn't need you or want you or notice you or like you.

Because that's the real curse of popularity.  People thinking that because they perceive you as strong or confident or popular that you somehow don't have needs, that there isn't a place for them in your life - and that can lead to alienating, excluding, and hurting someone's feelings.  Even unintentionally.

And what it boils down to... like most everything in life...

Love.  If we make our choices based in love, in acceptance, in embracing others... deciding that someone else is confident or popular or strong doesn't matter.  Because all you are choosing to do is love them - not choosing to decide if they need your love or not.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

I Wanted to Have a Good Day

I was excited for a day off during the work week.

Jeff had a plan to start working on cleaning out the garage.

I had lunch plans with a friend.

Other than that, the day was open.

Maybe we could hit the pool at the Y.  Maybe we would go to the park.  Maybe we would see a movie.

Or maybe I would wake up with a sore neck and shoulder.

And maybe the kids would be weirdly cranky.

It was not a good day.

My life is real.  It's not sunshine and roses.  There are times I really am tired of being a mom.

If you cut me, do I not bleed?

(Sorry - the melodrama was flowing)

I tried taking the kids to the park.  Teagan and I rode our bikes and Zach rode on his scooter.  We got there and it was empty - strange for this park but perfect for us.  Within 20 seconds, Teagan has gotten hurt, Zach is laughing at her, she's angry, and he starts crying.  And neither one wants to stay at the park.

There would be peace and quiet for a bit and then bossiness and fighting would take over the living room.

And in the end, the biggest issue was that the kids simply do not listen.  They just could not do what they were told to do or asked to do.

It was not a good day.

Except for the garage.  It's not done but Jeff certainly made a dent in it.

But overall, this Independence Day is ending with wine, oreos and milk, and a headache.

And hope for tomorrow.  A new day.  And I want it to be a good day.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013


We'd had a cranky evening.  Kids not listening, kids complaining, mom and dad cranky.  Dinner hadn't been fun - we ate out because we had errands to run.

As we pulled into the hardware store parking lot, I made a joke about going to the empty side lot and doin' donuts.

The kids wanted to know what that meant.

I explained.

Dad told us all that there was no way Mom was gonna go drive in circles in that parking lot.

Dad went into the hardware store.

Mom and the kids...

Yep.  We did donuts.


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Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Sometimes, it feels like I have a lot to say.  But I can't really say it.  For lots of reasons.  Anyone who blogs or is on social media should know this feeling - where the borderline is in terms of privacy.

Sometimes, there is so much going on in my head and my heart that I just need time to sort through it.

Sometimes I have to figure out what I have control over and can do something about.

Sometimes I have to figure out what's really any of my business in the first place.

Sometimes I have to think about the consequences - what might happen if I share.

I worry, sometimes, when I hit "publish" on a blog post.  I worry that I might alienate someone that I care about.  I worry I might be misunderstood.

There is a lot going on in the world right now.  A lot I could have something to say about... a lot I have an opinion about.

But sometimes... it's best to just sit and let things work through my brain and my heart.  Take time to process and pray.  Take time to be silent.