Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Abby Had Good Day Number 2

It just thrills this mom's soul when her daughter comes home from the largest high school in the world and tells her she had a great day! For the second day in a row Abby did just that.

Abby walks in my office door beaming her infectious smile and says, "Another wonderful day!" and my hearts melts.

"What's so wonderful about it?" asks her oh-so-mature and not-so-emotive brother.

"Nothing bad happened!" chirps Abigail.

Daniel seems less than impressed and continues doing whatever it is he does on the computer (None of us know because he flips from one screen to another too fast for us to tell if he's trading commodities or sending encoded messages to a spy group or just reading political comics. Don't worry, I know he's not doing anything too wrong because my desk is right behind his chair and I can see every screen. I just can't read that fast!).

But back to my happy daughter... isn't it grand that she was so thrilled with her day just because nothing bad happened? I don't know if that means that usually terrible things happen at that huge city they call a school, or if she's just extremely content. At any rate, I'm happy because she's happy. You see whoever made the wise-crack that "Ain't nobody happy if momma ain't happy" didn't really know a mom's heart. The truth is momma ain't happy if her chillun's ain't happy. That's just the honest-to-God truth of the matter.

Today, I'm happy!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Not Without Notice Today

Do you ever have days when you feel like you must honestly be invisible? Like no one seems to even see you walk into a room? Or cars pull out in front of you in traffic as though your car were some kind of stealth car or something? Have you ever stood in a circle of friends and felt like the conversation was going on all around you and no one could even hear you when you tried to put in your two cents? Well today was not one of those days for me. In fact I was a little too noticed for my own comfort.

I had gone to Walgreens, because I don't live in a perfect world, to get a large envelop to mail one more book proposal to an agent. I was standing in a line with probably 5 or 6 other people just looking around, minding my own business but kind of minding everyone else's too, when a woman walked in the door and began to walk our way. I kind of caught her eye as she came in the door, but then, out of stranger etiquette, diverted my gaze elsewhere. But as she came closer and began to walk right by me I was surprised to again notice her staring straight at me. As she approached she said, "Hello! How are you doing?" Now I can't possibly convey to you on this blog the inflection in her voice. She spoke not as though she were simply being polite to a stranger, but as though she knew me oh so well. I was quite surprised, but, being raised a friendly Southerner, I smiled back and said, "Hi! I'm fine and you?" to which she replied that she was good too. Then she walked on by. I was a little taken aback by this interchange, but just figured I had encountered an extremely friendly person. Still, that didn't explain why she had been so friendly to me and not the other 5 people in line. Oh well.

Ten minutes later I enter the post office to mail the aforementioned book proposal. Usually our post office is extremely busy, but today I wasn't in line more than a couple of minutes before I heard "Next" from one of the postmen at the desk. I went to his window, handed him my package and said hello. I told him I needed to mail this package and watched as he punched in zip codes, etc. But I also noticed, through my periphery vision, that the customer at the next window was staring at me. She was just turned toward me and looking straight at me. Now I had already noticed this woman as I stood in line and knew that I didn't know her, but now she wouldn't quit staring at me. So I turned toward her to see if indeed she was looking at me or perhaps she had some kind of fixation with the wall just beyond me. Sure enough she was looking at me and as I turned toward her she said, you guessed it, "Hello! How are you doing?" Notice once again the emphasis on you - as though she knows me well and has missed seeing me for some time now. Again I replied with a friendly smile, "I'm great thank you," and then turned back to look after my business, a little more baffled than before. Who are these people? Do I have some kind of dementia problem and not recognize people I'm supposed to know? Why does everyone seem so glad to see me today?

I left the post office and headed straight to my car, flipped down the visor mirror and checked my face to see if I had colored paint on me or something. Nope. I found no reason for everyone to be so friendly and familiar with me. Strange.

Well that's my story. I tell you this mainly because it was freaky and because much more often I feel invisible more than highly noticeable. But today I was certainly noticed and I have no idea why. Maybe these women go to my church and they recognized me but I didn't know them. That happens sometimes, but not usually twice within 10 minutes. Whether they really knew me or not, they were surely friendly. Can't fault anyone for that. Maybe I need to freak a few people out myself tomorrow with extreme friendliness. I think I'll do that. Join me?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

She Speaks...

Hi friends! There's a great contest going on at Lisa TerKeurst's blog for a free conference registration (including conference fee, hotel, and meals!) for the Proverbs 31 Ministries She Speaks Conference. Wouldn't you like to learn how you can stretch your ministry through writing, speaking, blogging, etc? I know I'm up for it! And I'd love for me or one of you to win that scholarship!

The conference is this summer, July 31 - August 2, in beautiful Concord, North Carolina, at the Embassy Suites Hotel Resort & Conference Center. The $550 registration fee (or scholarship!) covers all the sessions and your accommodations. I've never been able to go to the conference in the past, but I've heard it's a great opportunity to meet other women - some who have the expert knowledge to show us the way and others who are on the path with us to minister through words - whether you speak, teach, blog, or write! There will be breakout sessions geared to bloggers, writers, speakers, ministry leaders, and even the younger generation. That's right, one of the neatest things about this conference is they have a track for teenage girls who are interested in reaching their own generation through speaking, writing, and blogging too! Of course, for that generation I hope they also have classes on texting, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and bejeeter (just kidding on that last one!). I'm seriously considering taking my own 15-year-old daughter if I can win that scholarship. Don't you think Abby would just soak it up?

If you're interested in the scholarship, check it out here. If you want more information about the conference, go here. If you don't know what in the world I'm talking about go here. (Just kidding again. That last link goes no where!) Don't you just love links? If only we could somehow use them to help our kids link their dirty clothes to the hamper or their dirty plates to the dishwasher... Oh well. Enough of my rambling!

I'd love to win that scholarship myself because, while I do write and blog and speak and lead, I desperately need a boost. I'm nothing if not teachable! I'd love the opportunity to pump up my ministry with the help of these godly ladies. Personally I'm looking into the Pre-Conference Advance Ministry Marketing Seminar that begins Friday, July 31st. I think it may be just the booster shot I need to hone my skills and position myself so I can be of more use in ministry. If you don't already know, I absolutely love communicating the riches of God's ancient words to modern women. What a blast! And how I'd love to "pump it up" a little with this amazing conference.

Hey, if you're interested, you check out the info and get registered for the scholarship. If not, pray that I get it. Living way out here in Arizona, there's no way I can go without it! But maybe we can both meet up there and have a blast!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Shameless Plea for Help

Guess what? I'm currently 2nd place in a contest I didn't even know I was entered in! I recently published my new Bible study The View From My Front Porch on Lulu.com so that other women's Bible study teachers could purchase it for their groups. I had some requests and wanted to make it accessible while I was still searching for a reputable publishing house to pick it up (hopefully!). Turns out my sales on Lulu.com are pretty good and I'm in the running for some pretty amazing cash prizes!

I've already had a few friends request that they be able to teach the book to their study groups and they have already purchased theirs. Since then I sent out a letter to some friends and acquaintances to make them aware of the book as well. I think a few of those people have made purchases as well. Still, to win the contest, I'm sure I need more sales. If you're reading this blog - all 4 of you - and you'd like to check out my " 2nd place best seller" simply follow this link. You should end up at the preview page for my book. If not, just go to lulu.com and put my name in the search engine and you'll be directed to it. The cost of the book is $15, but if you purchase 25 or more there is a noticeable discount. It really is a great study for groups. I have included discussion questions at the end of each chapter and there is a lot to talk about! This is current stuff... worldviews.... biblical womanhood. I got great reviews from the 50+ women at my church who completed the study. I hope you'll like it too!

The View From My Front Porch at lulu.com

I love you more than chocolate biscuits if you buy one or more! Actually I won't even know if you order or not. But if you do, be sure to let me know what you think!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hello Facebook! Here I am!

Well I've taken the plunge and joined at least half of the adult population, or at least half of my acquaintances, on the world-wide message board of Facebook. This may be a big mistake; I'm not sure. I'm trying to get serious here, looking up scriptures and writing my devotionals, but I keep getting little notes in the lower right hand side of my screen that seemingly yell out at me, "Kay, come out and play!" Just what I need!

I look at the little note and notice the name of a friend from high school that I haven't seen in ages. Ah, how nice it would be to go out and play with a high school chum. Then there's the name of one of my cute little MOPS friends and a few tempting words like, "I have new pictures to look at..." I love to look at pictures.... And next I see my own kith and kin's names popping up and I feel obligated to at least make sure there's not some family emergency I should know about. Oh brother, this is going to be a real test of my self-control, which I've already decided I have very little of.

If you're one of my facebook friends, don't take this blog as a rejection or a warning. Let's face it! I don't have to depend on you to waste my time; I'm already doing quite well with that on my own - thus this blog! I'm supposed to be sending out query letters about my new book for pete's sake!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Just a Question

We all realize that when most people ask us, "How are you doing?" they don't really want to know the details of your emotional ups and downs. It is a gratuitous question with only one acceptable answer - Oh, I'm fine, how about you? In fact most people don't even care to hear that you are "doing really well!" because then they feel obligated to ask you why you're doing so well and, once again, they don't care that much.

Well, low and behold, I've just stumbled upon another question that obviously has only one answer and is asked with no intent to follow through on other answers. Every time I go to the grocery store the clerk at the check out counter asks me, quite politely I thought, "Did you find everything you were looking for today?" Because I always find everything I've looked for and a dozen other items I wasn't looking for and didn't need, I've always answered a polite "yes." The clerk then smiles and says "good." Now, I'm no dummy. I know that every grocery story check out clerk in Sierra Vista doesn't just happen to be so polite that they all think to ask this courteous question. I've known all along that they are obviously required by their management to ask me if I've found everything I came into the store for. That does not shock me. What did shock me was the response I got this week when I gave an honest answer to the question.

I had gone to Fry's looking for several items but one of the main items I was on the prowl for was a bottle of Kraft sun-dried tomato vinaigrette salad dressing. I have several really good-looking recipes that call for this particular flavor of dressing and have been scouting for it for several months to no avail. I thought I'd give it one more try this week and I would have settled for any brand of such dressing. But, as usual, I didn't find anything similar to sun-dried tomato dressing. A little discouraged, because I really had my appetite set for this Bruschetta Chicken Skillet recipe, I gathered the rest of the items I needed for other recipes and headed to the check out.

As usual, the check out lady asked me if I'd found everything I was looking for. I thought just a second longer than usual and, surprising even myself, admitted that no, I had not. The lady looked at me like I had deviated from some script and simply said, "Oh." Thinking that she might give me a request form to fill out or seek a manager's help, I continued on. "I was looking for a bottle of sun-dried tomato dressing that is called for in a recipe I have," I said. She looked at me as though she wondered why I was telling her this then, after taking a few seconds to digest that I was still stuck on her question, she asked, "Well is it an old recipe you're following?" At first I couldn't figure quite why she was getting so personal with me then I realized the logic, if not also rudeness, of her question. I assured her the recipe is current and even based on this recently marketed product. Once again I got "Oh."

The woman finished ringing up my groceries at this point, handed me the receipt and a dozen coupons for things I never buy and said, "Thank you for shopping at Fry's. Have a good day." No request form, no manager, no I'm sorry, nothing. I was, quite frankly, befuddled!

So, the lesson here is that when the check out person asks if you found everything you were looking for, it is just as though they had asked "how are you today?" They don't want a truthful answer to either of those questions. Still, I was quite disappointed by this revelation because I honestly thought the woman would help me find the item I have scoured several stores for.

When I asked my son, who works at a Target, if this is normal practice where he works, he said no, but also offered a little more insight.

"It's a marketing ploy, Mom," said Daniel.

"Well, I know they ask me that question because they want me to think they care about me, but I also thought they truly wanted to know so they could help me get the product if it isn't available at the time," I replied.

Daniel shook his head and continued. "No, Mom. It's an odds game. How many times have they asked you that question in a year?"

"Probably a hundred."

"How many times did you say 'yes, I found everything.'?"

"Every time but this one," I replied.

"Ok. So ninety-nine times you've left the store thinking positive thoughts about how the cashier was so helpful and friendly. And one time you left feeling that she wasn't friendly or helpful. Ninety-nine percent of the time their marketing trick worked."

And, so folks, there you have it. That is what all that friendly banter at the check-out counter is all about. Just more marketing. And I thought they were so friendly and helpful. Nah. Just answer "fine" and "yes" to the cashier's perfunctory questions of "how are you today?" and "did you find everything you were looking for?" and you'll be fine. And, according to my son, you'll leave the store still feeling warm and fuzzy toward the store and their customer service.