Friday, July 30, 2010

Pharmacy Notes

I have discovered a new medicine at the pharmacy this week!

Well, it isn't actually 'new'. In fact, it's been around for a long time. But this week I've been giving it out more frequently and have been impressed by the immediate results it provides.

"It" is attention and a kind word.

When I have encountered less-than-pleasant customers at the pharmacy, I have always tried to be cordial - with the hopes they will lighten up a bit, too. But this past week I decided to go further. Rather than reacting to my situations, I tried to shape them.
I noticed the beautiful earrings one woman was wearing, and I told her how much I liked them.
I complimented another woman on her pretty shirt.
A 96-year-old woman walked up to the counter and I told her how wonderful she looked.
Spent some time talking with a 9-year-old boy while his mom's prescription was getting finished, and encouraged him to help his mom through her illness.
And I noticed a similar response from each of these individuals.
*Smiles on their faces.
*Brightness in their eyes.
*A lift in their voices.
*Even an appearance of standing a little taller.

It was so easy! I paid attention to these people. Looked at them, saw remarkable things, and said so. And they responded immediately.
Working in the pharmacy, I have become increasingly aware of our tendency to point out that which is unsatisfactory - our propensity to complain. (As if mothering didn't show me enough of that behavior!) But it has also given me the opportunity to 'experiment' on several individuals each day, to confirm how effective attention and a kind word can be at lifting a person's spirits.
You don't need a prescription for this medicine, and there are no over dose warnings. Take it with or without food. It will not make you drowsy or dizzy. Apply it liberally whenever you have the opportunity!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Disobedience, Consequences, and Lessons Learned

Question: When is it a good thing for your sons to blatantly disobey, and then to boldly lie about their disobedience?

Answer: When you follow through with swift and firm discipline, and see wonderful results.

Last weekend Joshua and Matthew were lighting smoke bombs with their friend. Brian and I had specifically told the boys NOT to play with the smoke bombs, but Brian smelled the evidence. He went to find them and was first told by Joshua and then Matthew that they had not been lighting the smoke bombs. It was their friend who finally admitted the truth - though Brian already knew, from the smell and the boys' guilty faces.
The two of us spent some time discussing the consequences of the boys' actions, and settled on good ol' fashioned grounding. No leaving the yard, and no electronics for a week.

Honestly? I was afraid of our decision. While Matthew took the judgement with ease, Joshua was livid. Didn't want to talk to Brian or I Saturday night. I couldn't imagine what it was going to be like living with him for the next seven days. And Sunday morning, he was still angry.
(How timely that the sermon Sunday morning was about discipline, as God acted severely among a people who would not listen to Him. See Malachi 2:1-9. I think Joshua may have been listening.)
By Sunday afternoon, he was inviting friends over to our house.
Monday they all came over again. And had lots of fun.
We played games together as a family.
When I came home from work Tuesday night, I found that Joshua had warmed dinner and set me a spot at a candle-lit table. He scooped ice cream for dessert with a cherry on top, and even cleared my place for me, rinsed the dishes, AND put them in the dishwasher. A little later we all played Rummikub together again. And when Joshua was tired he 'let' me come in and sing to him and rub his back/legs before saying good-night.

Joshua was hanging out at home with his friends. When he was 'bored' he did sweet things for me. We were playing games together as a family. Oh, yeah. I'm lovin' it!

But, alas, by Wednesday Joshua was changing his tune. Complaints of boredom were increasing. He started to accuse Brian and me of being too severe with his discipline. Said if we wanted him to like us, we shouldn't make his grounding last for a week.
However, I asked Joshua what he was going to do the next time we told him not to play with smoke bombs. He told me he wouldn't do it. I asked why, and he said because he didn't like being grounded.
Ahhhh, my son! You see? That is exactly why we chose a swift and severe punishment. So you would learn that obedience is always a better choice.

Soooooo, while I was not pleased with my sons' actions last Saturday night, I am thrilled with the results which have come from the consequences. God has a habit of taking that which was 'bad' and using it for good - and I see Him doing it here, too. Trusting Him to continue pouring grace on this family of mine. Oh, how we need it!

My prayer for you today is that you may trust in Him, too, watching for evidence of His hand at work in your every moment.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hey gIRLfriend!

I know I mentioned this a few weeks ago. But it bears repeating.

What are you doing September 24-26, 2010?

I am registered to attend the first-ever gIRL (girlfriends In Real Life) Gathering, in Black Mountain, North Carolina. I know a few blogging friends who are planning to attend. (Looking forward to spending time with Lisa and Leah, and rooming with Heather!)
And I would absolutely LOVE to meet you there, too.
So, will you come?
There are still some spaces available.
Please check out the details here, and consider it.


For those of you in west Michigan, what are you doing the weekend of October 15 & 16? I am speaking at a women's retreat and would love for you to join me there. Click here for details.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What I'm Still Learning

Oh, how the LORD brings these lessons home!

It was last Friday. I had just finished recording yesterday's devotion, talking about loving well. I was fully convinced that imperfections and unfulfilled plans could be overshadowed - even wiped out - when we love well. When we let the love of God flow through us onto the people we're serving. Though I was tired, I was still on a high from the great week I'd just had and I felt like all was right with the world.


Joshua and I had an unpleasant encounter.
He was angry with me for making him come home from his friend's house so I could take him to mow a lawn. Never mind that he knew ahead of time he needed to mow the lawn Friday afternoon. Never mind that he gets $20 every time he mows this lawn. He was having fun with his friends and he didn't want to come home.
But I insisted. He made a commitment and we were going to fulfill it. So in his eyes, I was responsible for - and I quote - "ruining his day."
At one point I asked Joshua why he seemed to prefer his friends so much over his family. (Yeah. That was a dumb question. An invitation for lots of words I didn't want to hear. *sigh*) I got an ear full with his response. And I began wondering if this is simply part of a phase he's going through.
Or if I am doing something terribly wrong as a mother.
I wanted to know what I need to do differently.
Wanted to understand my son and make this situation 'all better' so he would be happy and I would be peaceful.

Because the trend we were on was clearly not the course I had planned.

I thought about the lesson I learned in VBS, the words I'd just spoken in the video, and I asked, God, how am I supposed to love him well when he doesn't even want to be here? How can I possibly love him well when he's pushing me away so hard?
And the key Bible verse of the week rang through my mind:

If any of you lacks wisdom he should ask of God who gives to all generously and without criticizing and it will be given to him.
James 1:5

Yes, LORD. I'm asking for wisdom - because I lack it. I do not know what to do. But I know YOU know this boy. You created him - You knit him together in my womb. You know everything about him. Please show me how to love him well. Even when things aren't going the way I planned.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pharmacy Notes

Two refills until 8/6/10.

Do you know what it means when a person is running out of refills on their prescription?
It's time for them to re-visit their doctor - to find out if they still need the medicine. There needs to be an evaluation. The doctor and patient need to determine if the medicine is still serving its intended purpose. They need to discuss if the current plan is the best thing, or if there is a better alternative.
In short, when the refills are running out, it may be time for a change.

Well, friends, there are only two refills left of Pharmacy Notes, because a change is coming my way.

At the beginning of the year a friend of mine (Pat) was telling me about her job. I remember thinking it sounded like something I would love to do. But I wasn't looking for a job, and the job wasn't available. So I just let the thought go.

Fast forward to two weeks ago.

I was at another friend's house and she mentioned that Pat had recently quit her job. She looked at me and said, "Karen. You would be perfect for that job!" And that thought from the beginning of the year rushed back.
I would love that job!
So I called Pat.
And she called her former boss (Laura).
Then she called me back and told me to call for an interview.
Which I did.
And the next day I went in for an informal interview.
The following day, Laura left for vacation - and I spent the next 10 days thinking about the job and asking God to lead us in the direction we should go.
This past Tuesday I went back for another interview, and yesterday Laura called and offered me the job.

Sooooo, yours truly is the new Activities Director for Edgewood Retirement Center in Lansing, MI.
And I am so excited!
I wasn't looking for a new job. I didn't go out seeking it. Rather, it kind of found me.
In so many, many ways, I can see God's hand in this change. (HE is the Great Physician, after all. He knows when my prescription needs changing. *wink*) And I am eager to be used by Him to bring hope and joy into the lives of the men and women who call Edgewood their home.

A new job.
A new ministry assignment.
The same God will go with me, and I will continue to trust Him with every step I take.

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you back here Monday!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Thankful Heart

I've been doing VBS this week. It's been good and I'm loving it, but I come home tired every day - wanting just to sit down and chill for a bit.
However, when I got home Wednesday, 'sit down and chill for a bit' was not on the agenda. I was met by Joshua telling me he was going to the movies and the mall with his friend - which was OK with me. But moments later he told me he needed $4 to go to the movie. Apparently, he forgot the 'money' he was originally counting on in his wallet was in the form of a gift card. So I gave him the last of the cash I had in my wallet. And I was a little grumpy.
Then I noticed Joshua hadn't unloaded the dishwasher yet, and told him he needed to take care of it before he went to the movies. He grumbled under his breath, and I thought, It isn't like this is a new thing, my son. Unloading the dishwasher is your job every day.
And I became a little grumpier.
I was making myself a sandwich, and as I put something in the trash I was reminded it needed to be emptied. Something I had asked Joshua to do the night before. I said, "I almost hate to say this because I know you aren't going to like it, Joshua. But you need to empty the trash, too."
Any guess as to his response?
Yeah. He grumbled.
And I became more irritated.
Finally, his friend arrived to pick him up and on the way out the door, Joshua dropped the pizza he was going to eat for lunch.

OH, was he hot!!!

It made a mess on the floor and splattered on his shorts. I cleaned up the floor and Joshua wiped his pants, as I tried to console him by pointing out that the movie theater would be dark and no one would notice his shorts. "Yeah, but I'm hungry and now I don't have anything to eat," he retorted. Joshua's voice was shaky and I could tell he was near tears.
But sitting on the counter in front of me was the yummy fried egg sandwich I had just made for myself. So I wrapped it in a napkin and said, "Here. Take this." And I sent Joshua on his way.

He was happy, and now it was my turn to grumble.

I came home to un-done chores. He took the last of my money. I listened to him complaining about things he knows he needs to do. And now he has my lunch, too. Grrrr.
Oh, I could list my son's offenses. I could keep track of every thing he did that bothered me. I'm pretty good at gunny sacking.

But I found it was only serving to increase my irritability factor.

So I started giving thanks, instead.

*I thanked God that my son is able to make plans to go out with his friends.
*I thanked God that his friend's mom was able to drive them.
*I thanked Him that I had money in my wallet I could give to Joshua.
*I thanked Him for His perfect timing. That my sandwich was ready right when Joshua needed it. God knew the pizza was going to fall, and He worked out the timing so Joshua could eat my sandwich.
*I thanked God that there were more eggs in my refrigerator, so I could make another sandwich for myself.
*I thanked Him that I had the opportunity to serve my son, without even knowing that's what I was doing.

I discovered that one thought of thanksgiving quickly gave birth to another. I could keep right on thanking Him for lots and lots of things. And I realized my grumpy heart was no longer grumpy. Giving thanks had changed it.

And that change made me even more thankful!

How's your day going? Feel like grumbling about your circumstances? Try giving thanks, instead!

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

(A More Real) Love Story

Oh, wow. I love Anita Renfroe!
Just saw this the other day, and I laughed so hard I was crying. ('Course, the tears might have been helped along by the part when 'Romeo' made Date Night happen. What a guy.)
Enjoy! *grin*


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In Remembrance

My Grandma emailed this to me last week.
I enjoyed it too much not to share it with you! (I'm just sweet like that. *grin*)

Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment community.

The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71.

Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours.

Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flakey at times, he still was a crusty old man and was considered a positive roll model for millions.

Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, three children: John Dough, Jane Dough and Dosey Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart.

The funeral was held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pharmacy Notes

*BIG sigh*

We made it!

Yesterday we 'went live' with a new computer system in the pharmacy. There has been a lot of anticipation for this move, and I was nervous as I approached the doors. Usually I am praying that God would use me to be a blessing, that He would help me see things, that I would be His instrument. Yesterday I was praying I would simply survive the day!
Honestly, the transition wasn't as bad as I had expected.
Several 'trainers' were available (And I think they'll be around for a week, or so. *whew!*) to answer questions and show us how to navigate the new system.
But at one moment - when I was in a particularly stressful situation - God reminded me that the One I really need was with me. And I remembered that He'll stay with me for all of eternity - not just a week, or so.
What happened?
Well, we were attempting to figure out what happened to a prescription, trying a couple different approaches on the computer, unable to ignore the long line of customers waiting for assistance - when I got to the point in the transaction where I needed to verify the person's birth date. I saw the date on the screen and smiled hugely as she chimed, "Eleven eleven."

I love it when God encourages me like that. Love that HE works in the pharmacy, too.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

It Takes Time

Matthew, my 10-year-old, knows how to tie his shoes. But it takes him a while. He uses the two-bunny-ear-method and always double knots them so they're more secure.
But every now and then, when he's in a hurry or just doesn't feel like taking the time, Matthew asks me to tie his shoes for him. "Because you can do it faster, Mom."
Each time Matthew seeks my help in this way I try to convince him that he could learn to tie his shoes using my method, and then he could be a fast shoe tie-er, too.
This last time, I thought I had won him over. I thought he was honestly going to try to learn my method.
I sat down next to him and started to tie his left shoe, so he could try the right one at the same time. Seemed to me this would be an easy way to show him step-by-step how to tie his shoe 'the faster way'.
And for a minute, it was working.
Until Matthew decided learning was taking too long and he had better things to do. (Read that: He would rather be outside playing.)
Before I could finish my monologue about The merits of investing time now, in order to learn a skill which will ultimately save lots of time in the future, he was out the door.

I sat on the floor wondering how I can convince this child it would be good for him to take the time to learn this skill.
And I realized I have the same tendency. Would rather get to the end, and skip the 'means'.
Hmmmm. I wonder where Matthew gets it. *sheepish grin*


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Disregarding the Forecast

And another thing about our trip to Cedar Point?

I almost cancelled it for us.

Thursday I was looking at the weather forecast - 50% chance of thunderstorms for Friday. I was so discouraged. I pictured us driving 3 1/2 hours to the park and having a rainy, yucky day - with no rides to ride and no fun to be had. I imagined the severely disappointed kids who would come with that scenario.
But when I suggested the idea to my husband, he insisted we go through with it. (Said things were looking up, since the last time he had checked the chance of thunderstorms was 60%.)

As it is, we arrived at Cedar Point under dark and gloomy skies. And just as we were getting parked, the skies let loose with buckets and buckets of rain.
But my brother was checking the radar and he said it was going to pass soon.
(And, of course, I was praying to the God of creation - Who can stop the rain with His Word! *grin*)
The rain did pass.
And we went into the park.
Throughout the day the rain came back a time, or two. Only kept us off rides once, though. By the end of the day, everything was absolutely beautiful. And as you will recall from yesterday's post - we had an amazing day at Cedar Point.

More than once, the thought occurred to me, What if I had persisted in my idea to call this trip off? What if I had allowed my fear of what-might-have-been to keep us from enjoying this day together?
I was so thankful my husband didn't agree with me!

And it made me wonder, how many delightful experiences do we miss because we give in to our fear of things not working out as we hope they will?


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So Worth It!

Friday morning the Hossink's all got up early and were on the road at 6:30. On our way to Sandusky, Ohio - for a great day at Cedar Point. We joined my mom, brother, niece and nephew, and had an absolutely wonderful day together.
I could tell you about all the rides. (MaXair is the bomb! And I have a new favorite: Skyhawk.) I could tell you about God's graciousness in taking care of the weather for us. Would love to share with you the fun I had teasing my brother.
But the best, absolutely BEST, part of my day at Cedar Point was seeing the joy in my kids.
They smiled.
They laughed.
They talked non-stop about this ride and that thrill. And, Wasn't that fun? Can we ride it again? Let's go there next! I'm having the best day ever!
I can't count how many times throughout the day I gave thanks to God for blessing us with the opportunity to go to Cedar Point - as I was hearing or watching the kids fully enjoy themselves. Oh, I was having fun, too. No doubt about that! But the joy in my children was the greater delight.

As we were walking out of the park Friday night, I told Brian how pleased I was that the kids had such an amazing day. He smiled, did a little calculating in his head, and replied, "Was it worth $XXX?" I smiled back, figured out how many weeks at the pharmacy that totaled, and said, "Yes. It was so worth it!"

Then - because this is the way I operate - my mind turned to Jesus. I imagined Him looking on us in love, as we enjoy the fact that we have freedom in Him. Considered His joy as He watches us living fully, because of what HE did on the cross for us. And then I pondered God the Father looking at Jesus - delighting in us - and asking, "Was it worth Your Life?"
Because I know what our Jesus would reply.

Yes. It was so worth it!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Friday, July 09, 2010

Pharmacy Notes

Working in the pharmacy has afforded me the opportunity to learn a lot about human interaction. About how to treat people kindly even when they aren't being kind. How to encourage a person by simply smiling and using their first name.

But that isn't all.

Here's some advice I'm sure everyone can use at some time in their lives:

*If you're going away on vacation, or
*If you're leaving the country for two months
DON'T wait to go to the pharmacy - where you expect to pick up your extra supply of prescriptions (for which you need to make PRIOR arrangements with your insurance company) - until the night before you're leaving.
It might not be ready.

I'm just sayin'.



Thursday, July 08, 2010

I'm Just Wondering

I am going to be speaking at a women's retreat in the fall, and am making preparations this summer.
Been thinking about the topic quite a bit - Delighting His Heart. And I'm just wondering...
Do you believe God delights in you when you're simply being you? Or do you think He delights in you just a little bit more when you're doing something in service for Him?


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Chutes and Ladders

When was the last time you played Chutes and Ladders?
If your children are still quite young, it may not have been too long ago that this board game was laying out on the floor waiting to be played. At my house, however, we haven't seen this game in years. So, you can imagine my surprise last week when Elizabeth approached me and asked, "Mom? Do you want to play Chutes and Ladders with me?"
Elizabeth proceeded to lead me outside to show me the 'board' she had drawn on our driveway with sidewalk chalk. There it was - all 100 squares, numbered, with chutes and ladders every which way. She had a dice in her hand, and she was ready to play.
So we began to roll the dice and walk through the game board, when we (read that: Me!) came up with a fun idea.
You know how on the 'real' game board there are pictures of the bad ideas and good ideas associated with the chutes and ladders, and the resulting consequences at the bottom of the chutes and the tops of the ladders? Well, in our version of the game whenever we landed on a space at the bottom of a ladder we made up a scenario of a wise thing we did, climbed the ladder, and told the consequence of our action. And whenever we landed on a space at the top of a chute we made up a scenario of a foolish thing we did, traveled down the chute, and told the consequence of that action. It really was fun!
Before long, Brian came outside and we invited him to join us. So there we were, 39,38, and 14 - playing Chutes and Ladders - for the whole neighborhood to see. *grin*

Do you have some sidewalk chalk at your house? You really should get it out and play this game - no matter how old your kids are!


Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Heart Check

Last week I made plans to take my kids to a park. We were going to meet some friends there, have a picnic together, go swimming, fishing, play on the play ground. Whatever. My kids always enjoy this park and I was looking forward to taking them there. *Read this: I was happy it was my idea to go. Was anticipating their pleasure in me arranging this outing for them.*
The morning of our outing to the park arrived and I busied myself making sandwiches and packing our lunch while Joshua and his friend flooded the yard searched for worms to take fishing. I was singing and happy to be getting ready - when Matthew told me he really didn't want to go.


I don't even remember his reason for suddenly being against the idea, but I remember my disappointment. And how quickly I became irritated. I'd made these plans. My plans were supposed to bring enjoyment to my kids. And now my son was saying he didn't want to go? Had he forgotten all the times in the previous week he complained to me of his boredom?
I reminded Matthew of his boredom complaints and told him I was leaving for the park in two minutes. If he wanted to come along, he needed to be ready and in the van.

Then Elizabeth told me she really didn't want to go, either.


Seemed she had also forgotten about the recent, 'There's nothing to do,' comments. So I reminded her of them and reasoned with her that she should come to the park with us.

At this point, a significant portion of my excitement about taking my kids to the park was waning. I had really expected them to be happy about going. Usually they are asking me to take them here or there. But this time I was volunteering to take them, and I thought - somehow - that should make the outing more special to them. I thought they would reason, Hey, Mom is doing this for me. And she's made a picnic for us. This is going to be so fun!
But instead, I had been met with resistance. And I was irritated.

To top it all off, as I finally got Elizabeth and Matthew in the van with all our necessary things, I realized Joshua and his friend were still busy flooding the yard gathering worms. I thought, Great. Now we're going to be late to meet our friends, too. *humpf*

And I started the van - to signify to Joshua that I was serious about it being time to leave.

But before I went a step further, God grabbed hold of my heart.

This song was playing on the radio:
The chorus was playing and I couldn't ignore the revelation God opened up before my eyes. I quickly became aware how full of me I was at that moment. This day was supposed to be about my kids, and suddenly it had become all about me.

I was upset because my kids weren't responding to my efforts the way I wanted them to.

As the tears welled up in my eyes, I joined in singing the chorus.
Lord, empty me of me so I can be filled with You!

And as I waited for the boys to get the rest of their worms, I prayed and asked God to help my children and me have a nice time together at the park. So thankful that He had spoken to me about my heart - to get me off the irritable track and onto His.

Oh! And the reason I knew I needed to pay attention to that song on the radio?
When I turned on the van and looked at the clock - it was 11:11.



Monday, July 05, 2010

HE Knows What We Need

If you didn't read this post last week about the flood in our basement and the lesson God showed me about the noise, you may want to check it out before you watch this video.


Friday, July 02, 2010

Pharmacy Notes

OK, so I have come up with a new game I'm going to play while I'm at work on my ministry assignment.
It's called, I'm Going To Be So Nice To You That When You Reflect On This Interaction, You Will Be Ashamed of the Way You Treated Me. And it's inspired by an interaction I had with a customer last weekend.
Oh, this man was mad.
And rude.
And irrational.
But, thank God, HE calmed my racing heart, kept my tears at bay, and helped me get through the situation. And God reminded me - this problem at the pharmacy was likely not the first thing to go wrong with this man's day. It was probably one circumstance in a long list of things which was upsetting him, and I just happened to be the *lucky one* to take the brunt of his frustration.
So, in preparation for the next time it happens, I'm turning it into a game. Cuz if I'm playing a game, maybe I won't feel like crying.


Thursday, July 01, 2010

Note to Self

Saw this on Heaven's blog.

Can I get an Amen?