Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Taking inventory before taking control (allegedly)

When I was seventeen, I worked at Woolco Department Store (no longer around), in the cosmetic department.  I also worked the front registers when it got really busy.  Once a year, the store would close for 24 hours and we would take inventory.  Back in the dark ages (mid 70's) this was done the old fashioned way with everyone actually counting what was on the shelf.  This gave management a way to do a check and balance of where they were at "real time".  Now of course, everything has bar codes and is tracked whether it is on the shelf or in the mail making its way to your home.
It's who I am!

Today is the last day of the year and I notice everyone taking an informal "inventory" if you will, of how the 2014 has added up.  What has happened - both good and bad, and what lessons they can take with them going into this next year.  Some of us are already making plans for the next year!

Wouldn't it be nice if it were as simple as a mathematical formula, much like preparing a budget?  You could look back and see that when a+b=c the end result was D so why don't we all just plan on doing that same formula again in the next year.  And if it was hugely successful, let's do it several times over.  And share the formula with EVERYONE!!!!

But the only thing we know for certain about our future, is the uncertainty that we can expect!  Every day we get up and have expectations.  In fact, expectations are one of my favorite things.  I love structure, guidelines, ways to show up and be counted (and counted on).  But on wrong turn, one misstep on the already slippery slope of life and even the best laid plans can quickly resemble a tangled ball of yarn that is rendered useless for even the simplest project.

None of us can count on OUR plans from one day to the next (let alone one year to the next) what we would like to be doing, yet we spend countless hours in meetings and meetings to prepare for meetings, strategically planning how those years will play out.  I wonder if we could see our life play back like a movie (to ensure perfect memory...another thing sadly missing in all of us) how surprised and maybe saddened we would be at all the time wasted.

So this is what I know for sure.  I am not going to stop planning - none of us can (the world keeps on spinning) but I will be mindful of the time given and how it's used.  And be grateful for each day! Some days may require a grain of salt and always God's grace.

Until next time,
See you next year
#By God;s Grace (BGG)
#happynewyear

your pal,
Kari


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Some things never get old

This is number 50 in my weekly series of posts and I haven't missed one yet.  And I enjoy writing them.  This is one of the things that never get old.  Something else that never gets old is Christmas Eve.

I bet I haven't missed more than a couple Christmas Eve services in the past 28 ++ years.  And I can only remember two services that I know of for certain.  One of them, everyone missed because the weather was so bad (think Kansas City -about six years ago) all the churches cancelled services for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

From the best Book written
I am not one that is interested in reading a book more than once (there are exceptions) and I am not a fan of repeat viewing of movies either (I already know how they end), however, I never tire of hearing the same scriptures read, the songs we sing and the familiarity of the service that is repeated every Christmas Eve.  This isn't so much a repetition to me as it is the reminder of a promise.

The first Christmas program I remember attending (and participating in) was when I was in sixth grade.  I actually memorized the scripture Luke 2:8-20 and was chosen to recite it for the congregation.  My gift was my first Bible. Attendance was sporadic throughout childhood and even early adulthood but in 1983, I attended St. John's Lutheran Church and knew I had found my home.

This evening, I loved scanning the crowd and seeing the earnest looks on the congregants faces as they joined in the familiar carols.  I particularly love hearing my husband sing the songs he has known all his life.  The choir was amazing and the instruments lent a special blend to the arrangements that brought the music to life. I followed along with scripture as it was read and reflected how it must have been.

Prior to "the incident"
Memories of other services always make there way back and I never fail to remember the infamous 2002 Christmas Eve service when Madison (age 5) had on an adorable red, furry sweater that swiftly went up in flames along with part of her hair during the candlelight portion of the service.  Big brother Tyler grabbed her and carried her out, slapping the fire out as they went.  We boycotted candles for years as did the poor older ladies that sat behind us.  Some services leave a mark....literally.

Although it has been 28 years, I still can't make it past the second verse of "Away in a Manager" before I begin to weep.  My little son Zachary died 10 days before Christmas in 1986 and this song was played at his funeral.  Melodies are powerful triggers.....

But tonight when we were gathered at the altar with all the saints who have gone before for us to take holy communion, I was reminded of what Pastor said at the beginning of the homily,,,"Welcome home, brothers and sisters, welcome home".

May God bless you and keep you,  Merry Christmas!

Until next time,
#inHisname

your pal,
Kari


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wait, I know a shortcut.

Don't leave home without it
The best invention in my world has been the GPS.  It is no secret in my family that I am
directionally impaired.  More than one person has said that I couldn't punch my way out of a paper bag.  And one of those people was me.  There was a time when leaving a baseball game, I spent 20 minutes trying to find my way out of the parking lot.  The kids still laugh about that.  (Because there are always witnesses).

One time I was driving to Wichita to meet sister Nori, for a weekend rendezvous.  The "three-hour" drive almost turned into an adventure reminiscent of Gilligan's Island, as we approached the seven hour mark; almost midnight and were still aimlessly driving in the country, now punchy with tired laughter.  Another time, Marissa and I were heading back to Topeka and somehow ended up in I don't even know where.  To soothe our weary selves, we stopped at a bookstore and bought reading material.  I guess that was just in case we never made it home.  Do you see a common theme yet?  I could write a book of stories just like this.

Always driving blind.
Since moving to Austin four years ago, I have managed relatively well.  But that is only because of the GPS capabilities that every phone has these days.  I am not going to lie.  There are times, even now, (latest one last week), that I will find myself in a situation of basically "I have no idea how I got to where I am...I am lost, it is dark,,,I want to go home."

Obviously, I can retrace my steps (or in that particular case...driving missteps) and figure out exactly where the errors were made.  That is the beauty of hindsight.  And hindsight is always 20/20 if a few things come into play.  First, we must be willing to look back and see what we did (right or wrong).   When the younger me made a mistake , I wasn't always interested in looking back, just moving on. That doesn't play well into step two.

We will never be able to learn from a mistake if we haven't claimed it as ours.  OWN IT!  (I may not be talking just about directions now...or at least not only as they apply to physically getting somewhere).  Once we look back and see what we did was wrong and claim it as our own, something wonderful has the possibility of happening.

We step right into opportunity.  Opportunity for change.  Opportunity for forgiveness.  Opportunity to do things differently going forward.  To go a different direction.  So many avenues and directions open up if we can just get to Step 3.

When Madison is playing basketball and running back down the court after the opponent has the ball, I am always yelling, "turn and look, turn and look".  That is what I want to be doing all the time.

Because this is what I know for sure.  I will never get to where I need to go all the time without help.  My internal GPS may fail me.  I want to be able to "turn and look" to see what opportunities are available to me when this happens.  And then I want to be able to move forward.

Until next time.
#turnandlook
#praywithoutceasing

Your pal,

Kari




Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Ain't no ladder high enough!

The other day, I was sitting at my computer, typing away on I can't remember what, when a co-worker stuck his head in the door and made the comment "what are you smiling about...you look so happy in here."  That was his kind way of saying - "hey, you look like the village idiot sitting there, smiling away at your computer" but I had no awareness of what I was doing until he called me on it.  And I wasn't working on anything in particular that brought a smile to my face.  The simple fact was...and is, I am happy to be where I am at.  It was so refreshing to me to have that brought to my attention and I think he got a kick out of it too.  After all, it doesn't seem that long ago that the only lines etched on my face were lines of stress, and smiles were reserved for weekends and holidays.

Everyone knows that you shouldn't climb a ladder without the proper support.  You also shouldn't climb a ladder that is poorly put together or makeshift in any way.   And I suppose, once you get to a certain age...you shouldn't get on a ladder at all.  Leave that to the younger crowd.  Yet here I am, climbing a brand new ladder and I am HAVING FUN.  There are new things to learn, friendships to make and relationships to build.   I have already noticed that this ladder is very sturdy, and much thought has gone into its construction.  There is nothing makeshift or "pretend" about the ladder.  The people that surround me are holding it steady as I learn.  I am on a solid foundation and when I let go of one rung to reach for the next (and yes, I already am doing that), things don't go all shaky on me. My support is right where it began when I started.  What a great feeling.

One of the best things about my "new ladder" is that it gets put away every night.  I am not carting this ladder all over the country, setting it up against different buildings every day.  I just leave it in my corner office (beautiful view) and hop back on it the next morning.

Some things that I have enjoyed in the past, are now being reintroduced as "firsts" in this new setting and the team building opportunities are amazing!  Twenty-eight days in and I already feel right at home.

And home is the key word!  I am home, In Austin, at work and with my family every night.  I don't know everything but this much I know for sure...God does not guide where He does not provide.

Until next time,
#howdoyoupronouncekari?
#orhowdoI?

your pal,
Kari



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What do you mean by that?

A couple of weeks ago, I was waiting with my husband as he was going to have knee surgery.  When his name was called and we approached the nurse, she held out her right hand and Terry promptly shook it.  She smiled at him and turned his arm over to check his wristband.  We all laughed as Terry realized his mistake and said, "I guess you didn't really want to shake my hand".  It was funny but it made me wonder how many times we react to situation and the INTENTION was something totally different.

Fast forward six days to Thanksgiving.  We are gathered around the table eating in and the room was crowded and noisy.  A new friend sitting across from me was asking if the condiments at the other end of the table had been tried yet.  I kept trying to answer him and he was talking over me and staring right through me.  I kept trying to answer until Madison informed me he was talking to the person standing directly behind me.  I could have sworn he was looking at me.  I never did get to try the olive tray because now I was too embarrassed to ask to have it passed down.  However, Madi and I both got a good laugh out of it and I don't know for certain if he EVER realized I was talking to him (I hope not).

Then there are those messages we read on Facebook.  Whether intended for us or just for our reading pleasure, they can be so UGLY.  The written word is so dangerous when used in the "oh so familiar" passive/aggressive form.  Yet we can't be sure, since we aren't included in the conversation.  It's like being on an old fashioned telephone party line and listening in....using our eyes instead of our ears.  And another big difference is, you are encouraged to read along.  A big clue that the conversation you are about to see is a FB type of road rage is when the conversation begins like this:   "BLANK is feeling pissed".  (Uh oh, don't mince words, how do you really feel?)  Next comes the choreographed response....."Yes, I know what you mean, I saw it, too".

Now, none of us "know what they mean" but there is someone who these partners in "behind the scene" crime are directing this little barb to, that they are not brave enough to confront in person.  Yet, they are hoping against hope (because they don't dare tag them) that the offender is reading this exchange RIGHT NOW.  If we believe the words are directed at us, we could develop a very involved response, even though we aren't participating in this conversation.  Don't worry, opportunity for the next chapter is just a few key strokes away.  Next steps may include involving others by directing their attention to the offensive post.  All this happens outside the posted conversation.  Then we post "responses" to our own set of friends, no real names are ever mentioned, though some name calling often occurs at this point
Real life demands explanation here
.  Judgments quickly take place, and condemnations are invoked from all freelance interpreters.  Depending on the number of different people reading the original post taking ownership, the crime scene could really get messy before it becomes a made for TV movie!

If one isn't involved, the reading can be as horrifying as watching a train wreck happen.  After all, everything in print is now a part of history.  It can't be "undone" as it will always exist in Internet eternity.  A deletion from the screen only removes it from the offended party's sight.  No guarantee of removal from anywhere else....including long memories.  For the injured parties, relationships are damaged, sometimes permanently.

Thank goodness, we still have opportunity for "real time".  When things go awry, the opportunity to misinterpret still exists, but the choice to allow for explanation is always available.

I don't always know all the facts, but this is what I know for sure.  It is always better to allow for explanation then to publicly condemn on assumption.  There is no turning back graciously from that.

Until next time,

#don'tairyourdirtylaundry
#youdon'tknowitall

your pal,

Kari




Sticks and Stones

Who remembers chanting these words (or a variation thereof) when called a name?   "Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words can ...