Planning ahead

I’m a planner, organizer, map-maker, scheduler, problem solver, detail oriented kind of person.  Give me a situation, and I’ll figure a way through it.   I’m not afraid to ask for help and input, but it’s all part of the strategy to get to the finish line.  And boy, howdy, do I have some things on my plate right now I’m working through!

Coming up in just a couple of weeks, I’m heading to Seattle for an MRKH Conference.  I’ll be gone for a few days, so I’m working on the plans to get everything done at home in my absence, coordinating with other MRKH sisters who will be attending, securing my air mattress plans with Helen, and working out activity schedules for the touristy day I’ll spend with friends.  Planning out a day with friends involves everything from outlining itineraries, ferry schedules, and parking options, to places to eat, things to see, time to rest and sleep!  While I have been to several MRKH meet ups, lunches and dinners and fun times with MRKH sisters, I haven’t been to an organized conference before…so this is somewhat new territory for me.  But I’m super excited, because some of my closest MRKH sisters will be attending too – ones I haven’t actually met in person yet, so I’m excited to be hugging their necks for the first time very soon!

Also, happening right now in my life…my in-laws are moving to Idaho from out of state.  More specifically, they are moving IN with us temporarily. Over the past couple of months they have been making trips up here with their “stuff”.  Some has been unloaded and put in storage in our barn and other storage sheds and trailers – and some has just been parked on our property.  My driveway is starting to get complicated with all the trailers and other vehicles things parked along the edges! Let’s just hope that no one has to leave in a big fat hurry…or they might just back into something!  This week marks their final big load of belongings coming up to be stored before their current house closes and they make the final trek up to Idaho.  They are in the process of buying a place up here in Idaho that has been in the same family since the 1800’s.  The seller has run into a little snag with deed transfer a couple of generations back, so they are working to resolve that little hiccup, but we hope to have it all sorted out by the end of the week – or at least a plan and timeline to get it resolved.  Once the sale is complete, then my in-laws will be completely updating and remodeling the house before moving in.  In the mean time…my little house is going to be bursting at the seams!  I’ve been busily trying to de-clutter and make a bit of room in the spare room so they don’t feel quite so claustrophobic in there!  I’ve taken a few loads of things to the thrift store already,  but I’m guessing there will be another load or two before the end of the month.  It’s a good reason to purge the stuff I’ve just been storing for the past 20 years!

It’s summer time here of course – but that means at my job the students are mostly gone.  It’s a time when I can get caught up on projects, tie up loose ends, and prepare for the students to return in August.  We do lots of planning ahead in my job anyway, often we are thinking about our needs 2 semesters from now!  I plan out and strategize on a yearly calendar…and I’ve already got my 2018 calendar drafted out!  I’ve been doing lots of document updates, list corrections, and follow up tasks scheduled as the semester gets closer and closer each day.  We will be ready to literally hit the ground running when the students get back in less than a month! Eeeek!

When I return from Seattle, I’ll be spending some much needed time in the soap room, organizing and preparing for some fall craft shows.  I need to make a few more batches of soap, but first I need to trim and store the ones that have been drying for a couple of months now so I have shelf space!  I also have to get busy and plan to spend some time canning tomatoes!  I buy lovely organic tomatoes at the farmers market every year and do a years worth of canning in August and September every year.  I love the look of a full pantry!!!  And while the long hot days of canning seem exhausting – having them the rest of the year is well worth the time spent!  And I bet my mother-in-law will be anxious to help in the process this year too!  Blanche, peel, pack and repeat!  I usually do whole tomatoes, Italian stewed tomatoes, plain tomato sauce, salsa, enchilada sauce, and pizza sauce…I know, it sounds like a ton of work – and it is….but the reward is priceless.

Our women’s ministry group at church is always busy planning something.  We are getting ready to launch our latest service project of creating baby boxes for local women’s shelters and food banks.  We meet once a month for a Ladies Night In to visit, plan, do some bible study, and just spend time in fellowship.  I’m co-hostessing our August get together, and we’re planning a tea party!  It should be great fun, and the perfect way to wrap up our mid-summer before school starts back up.

So what are you planning these days? What are your favorite resources when you are planning an event or project?

Now Serving

It’s no secret that I LOVE to cook, especially for other people.  I enjoy fixing my husband a home cooked meal nearly every night.  I enjoy cooking for potlucks, parties, events, and just because.  But this isn’t really the service I’m thinking about today.

It’s approaching Memorial Day Weekend here in the US, and while it’s officially the kick off to summer with BBQ, camping, gardening, lawn mowing, and that sort of thing – it’s also the recognition of our service men and women and the jobs they do and have done for generations to protect out freedom.  But this isn’t really the service I’m thinking about today.

Today I’m thinking about serving others, and by doing so, also serving God.  I’m here to fulfill a purpose.  To do something bigger than myself.  To make a difference.  To impact someones life.  To enrich my own life.

The happiest people are those who do the most for others. – Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington was an American educator, author, orator, and an adviser to presidents of the United States.  He was from the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and he became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants. His work in the late 1800s and early 1900s paved the way for the civil rights movement of the 1950s.  While some would characterize him as a political machine, it is clear to me that his life work was about supporting and serving the former slaves and setting the groundwork for establishing equal rights among all people in the US.  He instigated great change, and served others.  He was also a Christian man.  This quote is from his autobiography Up From Slavery, “If no other consideration had convinced me of the value of the Christian life, the Christlike work which the Church of all denominations in America has done during the last thirty-five years for the elevation of the black man would have made me a Christian.”  What a powerful testament, to both his own belief, but also to his life work serving the black community.

This is the kind of service I’m thinking about today.  How can I serve others while serving God?  What is my service roll in this great world?  What is my potential impact and how does it fit into God’s plan?  Sure, these are big questions, but shouldn’t we all be asking them?  Do we not all want to make a difference in this world?  We can’t all be as influential as Booker T. Washington and end up on the pages of history texts, or can we?

It starts small, a tiny mustard seed of faith, that grows into a mighty bush.  A flickering thought, a small change we can make today may just incite a movement.  One tiny pebble makes a ripple across still water that is exponentially greater than it’s own size.

As I think about serving others, it seems like such a grand concept, especially compared to someone like Booker T. Washington.  But it doesn’t have to be.

It can start as a simple act of courtesy.  Hold the door open for the person behind you.  Pick up the hat that’s blown off in the wind and return it to the young man scrambling across the parking lot.

Acknowledge the workers in your life – the janitor who cleans the bathrooms at work, the mail delivery person, the trash collector, the greeter at the store, the cashier at bank, the city bus driver, the cops and firemen, all those people who make your life pleasant – and safe – just by doing their job.

Adopt a random act of kindness project.  Pay for a strangers coffee or bus fare.  Leave a generous tip to a hardworking waiter/waitress.  Deliver anonymous flowers to the widow down the street.

Volunteer in your community.  Is there an organization you can join  – a historical society, community improvement group, neighborhood watch group, intramural sports, railroading club, master gardeners, etc.  Get to know your community, and volunteer for positions of action and/or leadership.

In my life…I try to be courteous and friendly, I do random acts of kindness and pay it forward kinds of things regularly.  I am active in my church, helping out with potlucks and organizing things.  I work with our teen girls ministry as a mentor, and am very active in our women’s ministry as well.   In the MRKH community I spend time conversing with and mentoring younger MRKH sisters, and building bonds with sisters around the world.  I’ve also partnered with the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation with the Courageous Project to raise money to support and empower women with MRKH.  All these areas of service fuel my spirit, and I often feel that the payout for me is much greater than the work I put into it.

I grow.

I pray.

I heal.

I forgive.

I praise.

I love.

I rejoice.

I serve.

It bears repeating I think, that today I’m thinking about serving others, and by doing so, also serving God.  I’m here to fulfill a purpose.  To do something bigger than myself.  To make a difference.  To impact someones life.  To enrich my own life.

What are you serving today?

Love Notes

I’ve always been a girl who loves receiving cards and letters through the mail. Yes, snail mail…good old fashioned post office…takes several days to get from your house to mine…subject to weather delays…mis-routing…whatever. We live in such an instant gratification society of text messages and email, that to actually get a handwritten letter is a bit of a novelty.
Over the past few years as my grandmother was drifting away with dementia I wanted to meet her at her own level…and so I started writing her letters and cards and sending them every couple of weeks. She loved getting them and would re read them many times until the next one arrived. As I continued on the journey of writing to her,  I found a few special cards and a few special card makers too. I would buy several dozen handmade cards every time I found them. Since I spend a fair amount of time at craft shows selling my soaps, I often find a fellow artist willing to trade.
I also began sending cards to MRKH sisters around the world…as pen pals. What a joy it is to receive a sweet card from a treasured friend somewhere in the world.
This spring I decided that since my sweet Gram was no longer of this earth, and I still had quite a stash built up of cards…I should be better about writing to my friends.  I also wanted to participate in the Lenten season in a way that would empower and encourage women…and especially the women who have had an impact in my life. So I started a list of women who are important and special in my life. Just making the list was a powerful affirmation of the caliber of fine women in my life.  My aim was to fulfill the 40 days of the Lenten season by writing a quick note each day to one woman on my list.
I armed myself with stamps and spent an hour or so cutting up index cards and writing a woman’s name from my list onto each piece. I tucked them into a coffee cup in my desk drawer, and each day I reached in and blindly drew out a name. Then I picked out a card for this special woman and started to write. I made a rule to not chatter along…but to limit myself to just a couple sentences to show my gratitude for the impact they have made in my life. Simple love notes. I quietly wrote them and dropped them into the mailbox each day.  This simple gesture of love and gratitude really warmed my spirit and heart each day – allowing me to focus on the blessings of wonderful women in my life.
And thats when the magic really happened…as these women received their love notes. Some posted pictures of the card and a public thank you for the card on Facebook. Some sent me private messages letting me know that I brightened their day.  Some are women I see in person regularly and so I got a few thank you hugs. Some confessed they cried when they got it…that they soooo needed it the day it arrived.  Some have never acknowledged them, and that’s ok too. I wasn’t sending them for some publicity stunt…I was purely and simply sharing love and joy.
It is past Easter now, but I didnt make it through my whole list…so I will continue sending out love notes. And I seem to keep adding to my list as well…there are a lot of wonderful people in my life!!! If you would like to be added to my list…send me your address and I’ll drop your name in the coffee cup too!
We serve Christ best when we are serving others.