Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 wrap up

I can hardly believe that today is New Years Eve. It seems like we were just here, only it was 2010:)! I thought I would do a wrap up because lately when I read back on past year's posts I think, "Thank goodness I wrote that down because I would never remember!"
It's been a big year for us in many ways. One of which was me going back to get my MSW at Western. It has been a wonderful decision. I love the work-family balance. I love having something for myself and being able to add something through my work at the Borgess Neuro Rehab, to others lives. I have been stretched and tested and come out better educated, firmer in my faith and clearer on where I stand politically. I have seen even more how great of a dad and supportive of a husband that Jeff is. I have met new friends and realized new dreams for myself and my family.
The kids have had many changes this year too. They went from being at home with mommy all the time to going to school everyday, for Matthew and Caroline, and going to daycare three days a week. That has also been good as it gives them opportunities to socialize with more children and have fun playing and learning. Ellie has thrived in these past months and we're blessed to have wonderful ladies providing stellar care for her. They truly love her and care for her as if they were related to her.
Some things have been challenging for us in 2011. I have realized, through being busier, that some activities and friendships, weren't meant to be. This has been bittersweet. Its always sad to have parts of your life and people who you thought you'd always be close with and that were so ingrained in who you were, not play as much of a role. We have also fallen away from regular church going which I am not proud to admit. There are a variety of factors that have lead to this. One is that I am just not feeling as tied to our church. There isn't any one thing that I can specifically name for why I feel like this. I am sure not going isn't helping at all. That is one goal I have for 2012, to change this as I feel its paramount to a strong faith. As always, with my daily quiet times and Bible reading, I have had good months and bad months and sadly, more bad months. I hope to have more good months and consistency with quiet times in 2012!
In the workout/eating right department, overall, I have been successful. I lost some weight and rarely miss a week where I haven't worked out at least once or twice. A goal of mine for 2012 is to increase working out to at least three days a week and to finally run that gosh darn 5K!
Our home got its lovely makeover, thanks to my awesome friend Nicole, in July and I am proud to say we've maintained the organization she set up. It has been the greatest blessing!
Overall, 2011 was a great year full of God's blessings. We're thankful and hope to make the changes necessary to have 2012 be even better for us and to glorify God. I can't think of a better New Year's resolution!
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Once upon a time I was a babysitter for a family in the town I grew up in. I remember details of random things, its important to remember that, because I am sure as you read this you will be like, "How did you remember that?" Anyways, one family for which I did a lot of babysitting was the Thomson family. The dad of the family is Kip and he worked with my dad. The mom is Wendy and from the moment you meet this wonderful lady you're smitten. She oozes with niceness and all things "fun mom". The kids at the time I began were Ryan and Heidi. They were three and four when I started babysitting them. Over the next couple of years two additional children, Kelly and Scott were added to the Thomson clan. This is where my freakish memory comes into play, I remember that Wendy wanted more kids and I kind of got the idea that Kip was probably o.k. with three. Wendy decided to leave it up to God and I assume Kip did too and soon God decided that Scott should be a part of this family.
I remember that the Thomsons were very involved with their church. Their faith was important. They were involved in Men's Bible study, Couple's Bible study and Mom's Bible study. They seemed to be new in their faith and were learning all they could.
As a mom, Wendy was such an example to me. I remember her getting down and playing with the kids. She seemed to truly love being a mom to her four children. She loved watching them learn and grow and encouraged that daily. Her house was fun! I loved talking to Wendy and would spend many minutes after they arrived home just chatting with her. I never felt rushed out. I felt very strongly that she appreciated me and what I brought to her family through my babysitting their children. I remember having a falling out with another mom who I babysat for. It was an unfortunate set of circumstances and I felt horrible about what this women was telling people about me. Wendy took the time to call me and express how much she appreciated me. It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.
I went on to graduate from MSU and move to Chicago. The Thomsons moved to Houston for Kip's job. For a short time, my parents lived there as well. The last time I saw Kip and Wendy was at my Dad's retirement party. It was so good to see them and find out what the kids were up to.
With the dawn of Facebook I have been fortunate to reconnect with Wendy. Her children are now 21,20, 16 and 14, I think. They have all grown into beautiful children on the inside and outside. They all have strong faiths. Ryan,the oldest, writes a blog that is so impressive. I really have enjoyed reading his entries and wrote Wendy about how proud she must be to have such great kids. She wrote back, humble as ever, thanking me but ultimately giving all the glory to God. I have learned through FB that she is involved in ministry at her church with the teens. Whatever stage she is in of life, Wendy has always sought to glorify and honor God.
A few weeks ago, Wendy had a brain stem stroke. She has been in the ICU for over two weeks but recently has been transferred to the stroke floor because she is improving. I know from my work in the Neuro Rehab that Wendy's journey in her recovery will be filled with all sorts of emotions. Rehabing is hard work. Its physical and emotional and tough. I am prayerful and confident that she will be surrounded by a team of therapists and nurses and doctors who will serve her in a wonderful way. I know from my own observations that once people settle in and learn to get used to the rehab way of life, that they truly begin to thrive. More important, I know that Wendy and Kip and the Thomson children will be able to reap what they have sown all these years. The wonderful thing about having a well established faith is that it gives you a remarkable foundation on which to pull yourself up. God will give the grace and power to literally have Wendy stand again, talk again, serve again. He will sustain the kids, who despite their ages, still need their mom. I know God will do great things through Wendy and her story. Once again, I turn to Ephesians 3:20 for comfort, knowing that "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us"
I believe that and know that God has great plans for Wendy and her sweet family. I have always been honored to know and love this family. It is honor to lift them in prayer in their greatest time of need. You can do it Wendy!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wisdom from the Grinch...

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling, "How could it be so?
"It came without ribbons. It came without tags.
"It came without packages, boxes or bags."
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps... means a little bit more!."

Dr. Seuss - How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Enough said..Merry Christmas! Be Blessed in the New Year and take time to enjoy all the things in your life you could never get in a store. Family, friends, good health, faith, fellowship.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Customer Service

I feel like customer service has really taken a hit from the blah economy. It seems that many people who work in service jobs such as waitresses, cashiers and store clerks seem very disgruntled to say the least. Usually I just ignore it and move on with my life. A few weeks ago, however, while doing some very early morning shopping at Meijer (we're talking before sunrise kind of early shopping) I decided enough was enough.
Let me back up a little to explain the situation. I went to Meijer at 6a.m. one early Saturday morning. My weeks are so busy now a days, with school and internship, that I usually put off big Meijer trips until the weekends. So there I am, at Meijer, at the crack of dawn and shopping merrily. Once my cart was full of the Simpson household necessities, I attempted to find a check out line. There were none to be had. Apparently Meijers thinks that the early morning shoppers only want the self checkout option. NOT me! I would rather get a flu shot than deal with the self checkout, "No item in bagging area" have to wait for CASHIER ASSISTANCE crap. I asked a lady donned in the Meijer red if she was opening a lane, to which she just answered with a grunt. Was that a "Yes, I am opening lane 2?" or " Hell no find yourself another employee?" I stood there awkwardly for about a minute and then she waved me over exasperatedly. Like I should have known all along that was what the grunt meant. As I am frantically loading the belt in attempts to not further irritate the cashier, I decide this is a bunch of crap. Why am I being treated like this? All I am trying to do is buy groceries!! If this women doesn't want to be here maybe she should get a new job. These are just some of the mean and nasty thoughts that were racing through my head. I then decide that I am not just going to think these thoughts, I am going to tell the manager about this cashiers crappy attitude. Then she says a simple sentence, "So, how are you today?" I was taken a back. Here we were, a good ten minutes into a very awkward and unpleasant exchange and now it was headed somewhere else. This was the week before Thanksgiving so I answered back with, "So are you ready for Thanksgiving?" Then the cashier proceeded to tell me about how she finds both Thanksgiving and Christmas very difficult since her mother passed away a few years ago. Her mother had always made both the meals and since her death, this women, the cashier at Meijers that I was hell bent on reporting to her manager, was struggling.
We went on to have a very pleasant conversation. I expressed my sympathies and we ended up joking about the holiday rush and believe it or not..grouchy people.
I left Meijer as the sun was rising feeling very strongly that God was teaching me a lesson on an early Saturday morning in the grocery store. He was showing me to be careful how I judge others and what I am assuming through their behaviors. If I had just barreled on with my decision to inform this lady's manager about her less than jovial customer service, it would have made a difficult day in a grieving daughter's life all that more miserable. Thankfully something made my heart soften and to sense there was something beneath the grouchy, uninterested exterior.
These types of moments make me so grateful and thankful for the Holy Spirit's prompting to do and say and be like Jesus would be. To not make the world revolve around me and my needs but to show those who are hurting and in need that HE knows and HE cares. Even at Meijer at 6a.m.