Friday, September 27, 2019

It's My Pleasure

If you're friends with me on Facebook you may have seen the post I shared last Friday when this scene occurred. (In which case, I apologize for the repeat.) But I couldn't wait to talk about it then, and it's too sweet not to write about in this week's edition of It's My Pleasure.
So, prepare to have your heart delighted by God's kindness.

One Saturday during last July I had precious interactions with a young boy who was having lunch at Chick-fil-A with his mother and brothers. (You may read the whole story here, if you wish.) And since that day I have thought of Connor many times, wondering if our paths might cross again sometime while I'm at work. Hoping they would. Realizing they may not.
But then there was last Friday.
I was stationed at the register closest to the entrance and was doing my best to make myself visable to the folks at the front of the line - all the way at the other end of the counter. That is to say, the entrance to my left and the front of the line to my right, I was not paying a lot of attention to my left side.
Until I heard a small voice coming from that direction saying, "Karen???"
And when I turned to see who was calling my name, there he was.
Recognizing my young friend I said, "Connor???" He smiled.
Then I loooked at the woman in front of me and asked, "Will you excuse me very quickly, please?" And I ran over to give that little guy a hug. It was a brief but very sweet reunion which allowed me to tell him I've been thinking about him and was so glad to see him again.
But then I had to get back to work.
I didn't see Connor and his family as they proceeded through the line. Didn't wait on them at my register, or notice when they passed by to go to the dining room. But before they left Connor came up to me so I could refresh his lemonade, and that gave me the opportunity to talk with him and his mother for a few moments. His mother told me that they know several people at their church who also work at Chick-fil-A, and she said Connor has gotten into the habit of asking them, "Do you know Karen?" Seems my little friend has been thinking about me, as I have been thinking about him. And it delighted my heart to consider how simple kindnesses shown to a young boy - over the course of maybe 20 minutes - could have such a significant impact.
Indeed, it inspired me to look for more opportunities to just be kind.

Oh, and when I returned to my register after first seeing Connor and giving him a hug? The guest who had allowed me to step away for that moment paid for her $8.89 meal with a $20 bill.
Which made her change $11.11.
And I knew at that moment - seeing Connor was a gift God had arranged for me. Can't keep the smile off my face even now, as I cherish the thought of HIS sweet kindnesses.


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

HE Knows What We Need

Oh, how I love how HE knows me!

Yesterday afternoon I had various thoughts running through my mind - some good, some not so much - when I looked into my backyard and got distracted.
That is to say, I looked out and saw a patch of pink.
So I grabbed my phone and went to take a closer look.
This is what I saw:

The moss roses my friend gave to me, all blooming and beautiful and full of pink-ness.
It made my heart happy just to enjoy their color.
But then I noticed something else.
The zinnias which are growing right behind the moss roses were very busy. That is, they were being visited by about five or six, maybe seven little butterflies. So I stepped back to watch them - and started taking their pictures, too.

Some were flitting around from flower to flower, while others seemed content to sit on one for a few moments and just suck nectar - or whatever it is butterflies do when they're sitting on flowers.
The thing is, as I watched the butterflies I was impressed by their butterfly-ness. They didn't care about the wind which blew the flowers about. (And sometimes made it tricky to get an in-focus picture!) The stalk of zinnias which somehow got uprooted and was laying on the ground didn't seem to bother them. Nor did they pay attention to the phone which kept zooming in to capture the moment. (Maybe because I have a pink case. Yes, it probably just looked like another flower to them. *wink*) Rather than becoming agitated by their surroundings, the butterflies simply did what butterflies were made to do.
And as I pondered the butterflies being butterflies, it was as if God was speaking to my heart again.
The same message HE has been conveying repeatedly over the past couple of days.
(Seriously. It's everywhere!)
You need not worry about your life, or what you need to do, or how you're going to get it all done. Just trust in Me, dear one. When the wind is blowing or things seem to be falling apart or strange things come into view, fear not, My child. Only trust in Me to protect you and lead you and care for you. I've got this!

Ah, yes. I love how HE used my affinity for all things pink to get me out in the backyard - so I would notice the butterflies and hear His tender exhortation.
What is HE speaking to your heart today???


Monday, September 23, 2019

Friday, September 20, 2019

It's My Pleasure

Sometimes a person is dealt a hard hand in life.
Sometimes that hand seems to get harder and harder, and the hole that person senses they're in gets darker and darker. Because "nothing" goes right.
And "nothing" just keeps on not going right.
To the point that a person questions God's goodness, ability, and even His love.
Then, when a person is at their end and sees nowhere else to go, sometimes God steps in and says, Come this way, and HE leads that person along a path of hope and love and encouragement.

A young man was just hired at the Chick-fil-A where I also work, who has been experiencing a situation like the one I just described. But someone (who is lead by Someone!) is giving this young man a chance. And I am convinced God is going to use the people with whom this young man will be working to encourage him, to love him, and to fill him with hope.
It delights me to no end to work at a place like Chick-fil-A Okemos, where downtrodden people can be given a chance to experience the Light of Jesus through imperfect individuals who do their best to serve love and kindness while they're making chicken and taking orders.


Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Happy Anniversary-ish to Me

I don't remember the day I officially started (and stopped...) but I know it was last September.
And since we've just passed the mid-point of this September I'm declaring whatever the specific date was, we're close enough to it now that I can celebrate my anniversary. That is to say, approximately one year ago I started following the Keto diet, and I stopped taking my anti-depressant.
And I realize it is quite possible that the significance of my previous statement is likely to be lost on just about everybody but me, so I'll explain.
I began (somewhat reluctantly) taking an anti-depressant in April of 2011. I was reluctant - not because I didn't need it - but because I was ashamed that I did need it. Thus over the course of the next three or so years I attempted to wean myself off of it a few times, until I realized how stupid it was of me to deny myself a thing which was truly helping me. And, moreso, until God was finally able to convince me that I needed to not be ashamed of the way He had chosen to work in me.
So when last September came along and I learned that some people who followed the Keto diet were able to successfully stop using their anti-depressant, well I was very interested. Not because of shame this time, rather because if I don't need to take a drug I'd rather not take it!
For that reason, I started eating "Keto" and stopped taking my pill. (Fully aware that the diet might not work for me and I may need to start taking my pill again. And completely willing to do so if necessary. Because the one thing I for sure did not want to "go back" to again - was living depressed.)
But, but, it's been a year.
It has been a whole year that I have been drug-free (And ice cream-free, and popcorn-free, and candybar-free, and bread-free, and if I keep going with this list depression may kick in, so I'm going to stop. *wink*) and I feel great!
It would appear that my brain is getting exactly what it needs from what I am eating. (Also avoiding what it doesn't need from what I am not eating...) And since I've made it to my one-year anniversary, I'm making it official: I've found a new way to eat which is good for my body and my mental health, and I'm sticking with it.

I thank God and I give Him praise for leading me on this journey. HE has used the pain of those depressed days to bring me closer to His heart that I might recieve His love more freely. HE has used the battle with shame and uncertainty to lead me to trust Him even when I didn't understand. And HE continues to draw my eyes to Himself when I am tempted to go down the road of self-condemnation. God is my Healer, and I am forever thankful.


Monday, September 16, 2019

Friday, September 13, 2019

It's My Pleasure

One of the things I love about working at Chick-fil-A is the team environment and support-one-another mentality which is so prevalent.
For example, when I'm taking an order and my guest wants lemonade or tea, oftentimes one of my co-workers will get the drink for me. (The lemonade and tea are behind us, so it takes an extra little minute to prepare.) That way, I don't need to leave the counter - and the guest's experience is more streamlined. And if I am not busy, I do the same favor for my co-workers.
Other times - especially when we're in a rush - I may notice that my lids or sauces are getting low. Or, surprise! My cups are all gone. And it's hard to find the time to re-stock because the line is so long and I don't feel like I can step away. But then - surprise, again! - I look down and see that some angel has seen my need and re-filled whatever was low or missing. (Sometimes an employee is specificially assigned to that job - just to keep things stocked during the busy times.)
So, yesterday when I was the beneficiary of both of these kindnesses I started to wonder something.
What would it be like if all of us operated in this manner everywhere we went?
What if we were always on alert for ways we could help one another?
What if, when we saw a need with which we could assist, we went ahead and offered help?
Without being asked for it???
And then, when we gave the unanticipated help - and the surprised and delighted recipent smiled happily and gushed, "Wow. Thanks so much!" - what if we responded with all sincerety, "It's my pleasure!"?

Y'all, I'm thinking we could create a small piece (PEACE!) of heaven on earth if we operated in this way.
Who wants to join me in giving it a try???


Thursday, September 12, 2019


Have you seen OVERCOMER yet?
It's the new Kendrick Brothers' movie.
You know the Kendrick Brothers, right? The makers of WAR ROOM.
I loved WAR ROOM.
Honestly, though, I sorta felt like it ruined me for movies. Because every time I saw a movie after seeing WAR ROOM (Six times in the theater!) I'd say something like, "Well, yeah. It was good. But it wasn't WAR ROOM." I compared everything I saw to that movie, and nothing ever measured up.
That is, WAR ROOM is still my favorite, but OVERCOMER measures up.
Seriously. It's THAT good.
So, if you haven't gone yet - get out there and see it!
(And if you're local, invite me. I've already seen it twice, but I'd be happy to go again!)


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

God and the SoS

Yesterday I had an appointment at the Secretary of State's office to renew my driver's license. Just before I left the house I jotted a few things on a piece of paper which I needed to pick up at the grocery store. And for "some reason" I glanced at the grocery list from Monday which had fallen out of my purse. In so doing, I noticed an item which I'd forgotten to get Monday and I quickly added it to my new mini-list. Then I looked heaven-ward and whispered, Thanks, Lord. You've always got my back, don't You!
And with an extra spring in my step because God's faithfulness delights me, I grabbed my Precept materials (Because I was going to work on the current study while at the SoS, then go straight to church for Precept class.) and headed out the door.
Upon arrival at the SoS I went inside and sat down - thankful I had an appointment because there was already a long line of people - and opened up my Precept folder. Which is also just about the moment I realized I didn't have the envelope with me which contained all my paperwork for the license renewal. The envelope I had intentionally put on the table Monday night with everything in it, so I could easily grab it and have everything with me which was necessary for an expeditious visit to the known-for-taking-hours-to-get-through-Secretary-of-State-office.
Yeah. That envelope.
I picked up my Precept stuff, but not the envelope.
With a heavy sigh I gathered up my things and left the building. Realizing there was NO WAY I could make it home and back again before the If-you-haven't-arrived-within-ten-minutes-of-your-scheduled-appointment,-your appointment-will-be-canceled-and-you-will-need-to-reschedule time was up.
And suddenly I found myself thinking, Wait a minute, God. I thought You had my back. How is it that You noticed my grocery oversight, but not the envelope? Huh, God? How???
If my heart and mind hadn't been racing trying to figure out how I was going to re-schedule a new appointment this week, I might have heard His Spirit whisper, Trust Me, dear one.
As it was, however, my heart and mind were racing.
Not doing much listening.
So when I got home and picked up the elusive envelope (Which was sitting right on top of my Bible!), I wasn't prepared to discover that I was going to need to turn right around and go back to the SoS.
When I got onto the SoS website to reschedule, I found the next available appointment isn't until the end of September - which is past my birthday - which means I would be driving on an expired license if I waited for an appointment. And I wasn't going to do that.
My only viable option was to go back with my paperwork, and wait in line.
Thus, I gathered up my things again (Including the envelope this time!) and plodded back through the door, resigned to the idea that I would most likely miss attending Precept.
And musing once more, Thought You had my back, God.
Yet as I made the second trip to the SoS His Spirit managed to convince mine that maybe - just maybe - HE was working something for good.
It wasn't the lady I sat next to when I arrived though. She was number 67, 61 was being served, and it was only a matter of minutes until her number was called and she was on her merry little way. However, the lady who filled that empty seat was with me for the next almost-two-hours until it was my turn. And it didn't take me long to understand that God had orchestrated our meeting.
She was a believer, so there was no eternity-altering conversation. But the time we spent together was mutually-encouraging and God-honoring. We prayed for each other just before my number was called, and I trust that some who overheard our discussion may have been built up, as well.

As it turned out, I made it to Precept for half of the video lesson - and was inspired by the message I heard. And through it all God convinced me He does, indeed, have my back.
Even when I have to wait to see the evidence.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Wanna Play?

My daughter knows me so well.
We spent this past weekend with Elizabeth and Phil, Phil's mom, and Brian's mom. And Saturday afternoon as we were all sitting together Elizabeth said to me, "Hey, do you want to play a word game?" Then she gave her beautiful smile which said, I know you're going to say, "yes," because you simply can't resist a word game.
True, that.
I responded enthusiastially, "I'm in!"
Everyone else followed suit.
And with that, Elizabeth began explaining the rules.
One person thinks of a secret word and tells everyone the letter with which it begins.
Everyone else tries to think of what the word might be, and when they have a guess they say another word which gives a clue as to the word they are presently considering.
For example, let's say we're playing the game. I think of a word and announce that it starts with "H". You suspect that I might be thinking "horse" so you say, "pony" or "equine" or some other word which you think will get sombody else to think "horse," too.
When another player thinks they know what word you are considering they call out, "Gotcha!" Then you both count down, "3-2-1" and simultaneously call out the word you're both thinking about.
If the two players say the same word, the person who has chosen the secret word must supply the next letter. (If the guess-ers don't say the same word no new letter is revealed.) And the game continues with players thinking of possible words, giving clues, saying "Gotcha!", and counting down to the pronouncement of the guess.
HOWEVER, if the keeper-of-the-secret-word also thinks they know the word which is about to be guessed, they can prevent being required to give up the next letter. That is, when the two players are counting down and as they call out the word they're guessing, the keeper-of-the-secret-word may simultaneously call out, "It isn't ****!"
For example, in the scene above let's say you just said, "equine" and another player said, "Gotcha!"
I'm pretty sure you're both about to call out "horse", so I wait for you to say "3-2-1" then while the two of you are saying "horse", I call out "It isn't 'horse'!" And now I don't have to give you the next letter in my secret word.

When somebody figures out the correct word, gives a clue which gets somebody else to also think of the correct word, and counts down to call out said correct word, there is a winner and the winner gets to choose the next secret word. (Of course, if the keeper-of-the-secret-word realizes the players are about to call out the correct word he/she cannot call out, "It isn't ****!" because that would be a lie. And lying isn't nice.)
So, that's the game. It's my new favorite!
And the next time we're together with two or three other people, I'd love to play it with you! :)


Friday, September 06, 2019

It's My Pleasure

You know those viral videos you've seen of some wonderful act performed by a person who was at the right place at the right time?
The ones which warm your heart and give you hope that there is some level of goodness in mankind?
Well, if only I was allowed to have my phone on my person when I'm working, I am certain I could have captured another one of those videos this week.
That is, on Monday I was working at the front counter when a young couple came to my register and handed me a phone. On its screen was a detailed list of the order they wanted to place. People often bring their order in written form when they're getting lunch for friends, or simply have a large order - so I didn't think anything of it. I just looked at the phone and started to enter the order into the register.
I had a question about one of the items, so I looked up and started to ask - but this couple immediately cut me off. Not saying anything, just shaking their heads and slightly waving their hands.
And I didn't understand what was the problem.
I really just had a simple question.
That's when my teammate who was at the register next to mine stepped in. She said, "Hey, I know ASL. I can help!" And then I realized the reason for the written order. This couple was deaf! They came prepared to place an order, not to answer my verbal questions. And with that, my teammate and I switched registers - I completing her guest's order, and she mine.
Though I did my best to give my full attention to my "new" guest, I could not help but also watch the scene transpiring next to me. This time the hands which were waving were communicating with one another. Questions were asked and answered, people were heard who couldn't hear, and value was given so much beyond a good meal.
When all was said and done, I hugged my teammate and said, "That was beautiful!"
And the next guest in line agreed.
"Yes," he said. "That was beautiful!"


Wednesday, September 04, 2019

One More Lesson

One more day of processing, and then I think I'll be ready to move on.
That is, God has been working in me off-screen and I am thankful. But part of how He has wired me is that I do a good amount of mind-heart reconciliation through writing, thus blogging often is a tool God uses to help me work through my "things".
And right now my mind and my heart need to have a talk.
What I mean to say is last Thursday when Josh and Matthew and I were sitting around Josh's bed petting Mindy and freely allowing our tears to flow, I realized something.
I didn't care one iota about the countless times Mindy had peed on the carpeting in my house.
The scratches on the window sill and the wall underneath it (Which are there from all the times Mindy ran to the window and got up on her back legs - using the wall and window sill to support her front legs - so she could look out to see who was coming up the driveway.) didn't bother me.
I wasn't even upset about all of my scrapbooks which are each missing a corner because Mindy chewed up the whole stack of them when she was a puppy.
Rather than rehearsing in my head the list of all her transgressions, Thursday afternoon I was focused on giving love to that dog. I was remembering so many of the precious moments I had with her, the ways God spoke Truth to me through her, and especially the blessing her companionship had been to Josh.
Especially that - as my heart broke for his breaking heart.
The thing is, every time Mindy peed on the carpet I was sincerely, truly, and absolutely annoyed.
I was put out because I was always the one who had to clean it up, and I was miffed because she knew better. Because she could do better. And I secretly suspected she was doing it just to aggravate me. Thus I would give her the stink-eye, and do my best to make sure she knew I was NOT happy with her for doing what she did.
But sitting with her as she lay dying, I truly did not care about any of those moments.
They didn't matter!
All that counted Thursday afternoon was that Mindy had been a blessing to my family, and I wanted to give her love.

And now that we're on the other side of Thursday and all it's pain, I'm wondering if God has one more lesson for me which He wants to speak through that dog's life.
That is, I realized as I sat by Mindy's side that my change of heart came from my change in perspective. I wasn't upset with her for her failings, because I was acutely aware how precious - how fleeting - was the time we had with her. Loving her being became more important than despising her doing.
Am I the only one who needs to read that statement again???
Loving her being became more important than despising her doing.
And therein, I believe, may be the final word God wants to speak through Mindy's life.
Oh, that by the power of His Spirit my heart may elevate the value of a person's being over the value of their doing. Yes, LORD, please work in me these changes of perspective which are pleasing to You. Please make me more like Jesus!


Monday, September 02, 2019

HE Knew. HE Knows.

"I'm going to rest, and wait for God to lead."

I had no idea what was in store when I wrote that statement two weeks ago.
That is, I rested. I did rest.
And it was good.
I spent time in the Word.
I spent time doing fun and frivilous stuff. (Might have become addicted to a new word game... *ahem*)
I just spent time being. Not concerned about "doing". And it was good.
Very good.
And although my mind was completely unprepared for how this two-week rest would come to an end, I absolutely believe God used the time to ready my heart.

Last Wednesday evening Josh brought Mindy over to the house, very concerned about a sudden change in her behavior. She had vomited and was extremely lethargic. She didn't even wag her tail in expectancy of being petted when somebody entered the room, let alone get up to greet newcomers at the door. Something was definitely wrong, so Josh planned to contact the vet in the morning.
Thursday morning found the two of them at the MSU Vet Clinic (Our vet told him to go there right away.) and after probing, an ultrasound, and needles it was determined that Mindy had a growth in her abdomen which had begun to produce internal bleeding. Most likely cancer.
The surgery for thousands of dollars with a prognosis of "may extend life a few weeks to a few months" was not an option. So Josh brought Mindy back to his apartment to spend time with her - after an infusion of fluids, anti-nausea medication, and pain medication.
Matthew went over between classes to see her.
And I joined them when I got off work. Walked into Josh's bedroom to find Mindy on his mattress, and the two boys hoovering over her in tears as they anticipated what was to come.
My own tears quickly followed.
Brian left work early Thursday afternoon and came over, too. Then the three of us (Brian, Josh, and me.) sat beside Mindy petting her and loving her as her abdomen continued to fill with blood. Much too quickly, her breathing became labored (Because her lungs didn't have enough room to fully function anymore, due to the collection of blood in her abdomen.) and we knew it was time to go back to the clinic.
Oh, how hard that was to do!
Every move was a huge effort.
Picking her up off the mattress.
Leaving the apartment.
Getting into the van.
And ESPECIALLY getting out of the van once we arrived at the clinic.
Because every step brought us closer to the decision to which nobody wanted to give voice.
"Yes. It's time. We're going to do it."
We all knew it was the best thing. Allowing Mindy to keep going was only going to allow us to not make the hard choice. She wasn't going to get better or feel better, only worse. And so, after much grace and patience on the part of the MSU Vet Clinic staff, we sat outside - Mindy on Josh's lap - and said good-bye to our dear little dog.

I still know we made the right decision. To free Mindy from her suffering was the most humane thing we could do. But the same pain which caused the majority of my tears that day still gets them to flow even as I type these words and re-live the memory. That is, the suffering of my beloved son who lost his cherished pup too quickly. I can't even put into words the way it felt to watch his heart breaking and his world come crashing in - as the inevitable became reality.
My 21-year-old man-child became a toddler again in my eyes and I just wanted to gather him up in my arms and kiss him and promise him the owie would go away soon.
But I couldn't.
Because this kind of owie can't be healed by a mommy's kiss.
So I pretty much just stayed by his side, rubbed his back on occasion, and prayed. Prayed that the Spirit of God would comfort and heal him, and do all the things I only wished I was able to do.
And that's where I see God has been preparing me over the past two weeks as I have been resting.
HE has been leading me to rest in Him. To be.
To not be concerned about doing.
And I think that is what Josh needed more than anything else on Thursday. There was nothing I could do or say which would make the events of the day less painful. But as Brian and I were leaving his apartment Thursday night after we'd taken him home, he said to us, "Thanks for being with me today." (And I literally just remembered his statement as I was coming to this point of writing this post.)
Indeed. God knew what we were going to be facing this week, and HE prepared me for it perfectly.
How comforting it is to me to realize HE knows what's still to come - and to have confidence that I can trust Him every step of the way.