Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jimmy Carter leaves Southern Baptist Convention

Jimmy Carter recently announced he was going to sever ties with the Southern Baptist Convention after six decades. He admitted this was a painful decision but a much-needed one after the SBC's recent announcement that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service. You can read his full announcement here.

I know this had to be a hard decision for Mr. Carter. He has devoted his life to serving and helping others within his church and in the community. He's been a deacon and a Sunday School teacher for years and years. His work with Habitat for Humanity is internationally known.

I can, however understand his decision too. As a life-long Southern Baptist myself AND a woman I have issues with the male dominance/female subservience attitude we are supposed to adhere to. I may be totally wrong about this but it is my opinion that if the male figure (spouse, father, etc) is the spiritual leader in the household...REALLY the spiritual leader, meaning he is striving to live, act, breathe, absorb God's word on a daily basis, then yes, the woman should come alongside him and be his helper and allow him to be the natural leader he was called to be. If he is walking with God on a daily basis and in communion with God together with his spouse chances are pretty good they are going to be together in decisions about everything else. Ask any "strong" Christian male figure and he'll tell you his spouse is the one that keeps him going and he could not do anything without the love and support of her.

Now if you have a household where the man is not the spiritual leader and wants to lead with abuse, threats, lies, manipulation, whatever the case may be...I no longer believe that a spouse should cater to him as a leader because he is not "upholding his end of the deal" so to speak therefore it makes everything else null and void. Yes, I am sure I'll hear backlash from this...but this is real life and there are too many women in abusive situations and terrible marriages who are trying to be the Biblical wife the SBC says they should be and because their husband aren't doing their part it just continues to lower their self-esteem and knock them down even more...and they wonder "I'm doing everything I'm supposed to do, why me?"

I think Jimmy Carter, in all his many years of traveling around helping people, has seen one too many women in that situation and is now ready to fight a new fight...for these women.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Long Distance Friends

When I went to Brazil 2 years ago I met some wonderful people I've been fortunate enough to remain in contact with. It's remarkable to me that even through our language barriers we are able to communicate on a daily basis through translation help on the internet. It's helping me with my Portuguese and it's helping them with their English.

I want so badly to go back to Brazil. I did not try to go this last year because our goal was to purchase our house. We made that goal a reality. My goal this next year is to get back to Brazil. It is very hard to sit on the sidelines year after year and watch while a team goes without me...knowing I could (and should) be on that team.

The group got back from this year's trip at the beginning of July. One of my Brazilian friends sent a couple of gifts back to me. This is me, Teka and her fiance' Don (he's wearing makeup from a skit he had performed) and the short woman in the front is Rosa, another team member who went on the trip with me two years ago. Teka and I talk on Facebook on a weekly basis. I love to hear all about what is happening in the church over there and with her.

Teka and Don are the ones who sent gifts home to me this year. This little doll with my name on the base is adorable!
This is a towel that she had a family member crochet/knit (I don't know the difference?) a pretty lacy edge all around it. It's red which blends in with my wall so it's kind of hard to see, but I love it! Goes perfectly with my kitchen!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hmmm, could it be?

This was on my lawn this morning...
We've had unseasonably cool weather lately, but could it really mean Fall's around the corner already??

Backyard Paradise

I have my own little paradise in my backyard. One of the first things I do every morning is open the blinds in my bedroom window which overlooks my backyard so I can see what new flowers are blooming or what birds are visiting.
I keep adding new plants and bushes...not nearly as many as I'd like though. I have to wait until Greg buys a weedeater before I can really plant anything else because he doesn't want too many obstacles to push the lawnmower around. LOL
Funny story about these shrimp plants in my hummingbird garden...this was the first little garden we put in because we saw hummingbirds all around when we moved in last year. My dad gave me 4 shrimp plants from cuttings out of his yard. So all year and through the winter they were very small and didn't have the red tops on them like this.....
Once it got warm and we finally started getting rain they just took off and now they are beautiful. Dakota and I were walking around the yard one day watering, pulling weeds, etc and he saw the shrimp plants with the red tops and he said "Oh no! Mom, your plants are dying!" He didn't realize that was the flowery part.

We just planted this bed (don't have mulch around it yet because I'm having a hard time finding mulch!) from plants my dad gave me. I don't remember the name of the tall plants. The smaller ones are iris lilies but they haven't begun blooming yet. The tall ones are so cool because we wake up every morning with flowers blooming all over these plants, but they fall off every evening and the next day there is a fresh new flower in its place.
I took this picture of the purple flower in the morning as it was still opening up and there was still dew on everything... I took this picture of the pink one late in the can see how much the flower opened up and there is a flowerbud behind the two flowers that will open the next morning.
Our backyard has a fence around the back part because there is a large drainage area/holding pond type thing back there that is maintained by the county and then beyond that is a very busy main road in town. We live two blocks from a hospital and a fire station. We hear fire trucks, ambulances, life flight and police cars on a regular basis. I've started planting bushes and climbing vines back along the fence line to help block out the road. It's almost to where you can not see our backyard from the road anymore due to the trees and bushes...which is what I wanted.

This is one of the latest bushes I planted - a wisteria. I LOVE these deep purple flowers that are all over it!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cute Commercial - Roller Babies

Love how they do this!!

Money Talks

MSH 08/06 "Red Convertible"Image by Kayak The Rockies via Flickr

It's funny how your perspective on things change after you go through trials and hardships. When Greg & I first got married 14 years ago we lived paycheck to paycheck and relied on credit cards and loans to help get through really lean times. If we had a major appliance to purchase, like a refrigerator, washer/dryer, etc there was no way we could pay for it outright so we would buy things like that from one of those rent-to-own places...and pay a fortune in interest.

Because of that lifestyle we were not prepared for when Greg lost his job eight years ago and we fell into financial ruins. Through the last seven years we chose to get rid of everything, live with relatives and pay back our debts instead of declaring bankruptcy and we were able to purchase our first home last August.

I have learned so much through this whole process. When I look back I can't believe some of the really stupid choices/decisions I made. Now if I want something...a big-ticket item (like, my convertible I'm saving for!) then I know I just have to put a little money away every month and the money will be there before I know it. There's nothing like walking into a business with a bunch of cash and saying "I've got cash, let's talk!" You can get some great deals because, money DOES talk!
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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Here in America

Toonful Tuesday

Artist's comments: The soldier in the cartoon has his attention fixed solely on the mountain that is blocking his path. He is dismayed, and cannot see how he and the Sergeant will be able to accomplish their mission. The Sergeant, however, is confident. He sees the mountain, but he knows the power of God is there to remove it. His faith is the trigger that will release the power of God in his situation.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A New Appreciation

Deep Sea Fishing In Gulf of MexicoImage via Wikipedia

Greg went deep sea fishing last week. He just got home yesterday. He took the whole week off from work last week but he didn't leave to go out on the boat until Wednesday morning.

Monday and Tuesday he took care of Dakota, me and the house while I went to work all day. Talk about a change of roles - it's been ten years since I worked and he stayed home.

It was nice coming home to a clean house and a home-cooked meal and I didn't have to do it! He ironed my clothes and made my lunch both mornings too (I don't even do that for him because most times when I try he won't let me...saying "he can handle it.")

Well as nice as Monday and Tuesday were...he left Wednesday morning after I went to work and things weren't so nice anymore. Mon & Tues we finished our work and I was able to get off an hour early each day. Wednesday I was working in a city an hour away - Dakota was home alone all day - I didn't get off early and then there was an accident on the interstate on the way home which caused a 2-hour delay. By the time I got home Dakota was upset because he was supposed to be at church for a youth function ("an hour ago mom! I miss everything!"....I didn't think boys were supposed to be so dramatic??) Back in the car I go to take him to church and drop him off. An hour later I make it back home, change clothes, grab a bite to eat...since I've now been off work and sitting in a vehicle for three hours and haven't had a chance to even go to the bathroom and I'm thinking to myself "oh what I wouldn't give to have my dear husband here NOW to help me out." LOL

My dear husband would be sweet enough to go back and pick Dakota up from church while I crawled into bed to rest my aching muscles. Unfortunately (for me) he was out on a much-deserved fishing trip so back to the church I headed to pick up my son. By this time it was 8:15 and Dakota had not had dinner so a quick run through Arby's drive-through suited him perfectly.

I needed dog food and laundry detergent so I decided to stop by Target on my way home. I was too tired to even fool with coupons or look for any kind of bargains and I just picked up the two items I needed and went to checkout. After I completed my purchase and we were walking away, Dakota said "Mom! That was expensive!! Oh my gosh, why did those two things cost so much!?" LOL, I had to bust out laughing at that one...he's so used to me saving money on all my purchases by using coupons and getting things almost free that when I actually paid full-price for something it shocked him!

Thursday was my last day of work and we managed to finish our store early so I got home early enough for Dakota and I to head out for the evening. We rented four movies from Redbox and purchased some junk food to snack on from Walmart. Friday I laid in bed all day and rested my weary bones. I watched movies and slept off and on all day.

By Saturday morning I was feeling much better physically. But I started really missing Greg. Saturday's are our day together. We always go have breakfast early in the morning and spend our mornings together. I had not talked to him since Wednesday morning or heard from him - he was out of range where he was fishing. We talk several times a day and text each other all day so this is not normal for me to not talk to him for four days and I was REALLY starting to "feel" it on Saturday. I woke up real early and just started working around the house to keep myself busy. Over this weekend I ended up doing major Spring cleaning and re-organizing in our house. I threw away an enormous amount of stuff! The house looks amazing though!!

Saturday night we went over to our friends house for BBQ and fireworks. We had a really nice time. Dakota always wants to do fireworks on the 4th instead of going to watch them somewhere. He and Greg buy some and shoot them off every year. Dakota wanted me to do it this year but I told him he was going to have to wait until his dad gets home because "that's not my thing." He knows this...I'm scared to do fireworks and would prefer not to mess with them.

When we were invited over to our friend's house they said they were probably going to do fireworks...Dakota was thrilled! He had some fireworks left over from some other event - he took those with us and his Uncle Robert (in the picture below) took care of Dakota...he lit up the sky for 'em. :-) That's Robert's son, Alan and Dakota's best friend on the right...he came home with us Saturday night.

The guys did fireworks for 45 mins - good thing no cars tried to come down the street - we had them all over the road!

Robert's wife, Vicki on the right and her sister, Tina...we were at Tina's new house they just bought and moved into last month.

Me and my boy...

Tina took this picture...

Dakota and Alan stayed up Saturday night until about 2 am playing Xbox. I woke up early trying to finish cleaning the house before Greg got home. When I went to wake up Dakota for church he said he didn't want to go because they had stayed up late playing. This was fine with me because I actually had a mess in the house and wanted to clean so we didn't go to church yesterday. I did go meet a friend for breakfast around 8:00 and then made a trip to Walmart for some pretty matching storage containers to go in my newly organized kitchen rack.

When I got back home and started working again I was putting stuff in the back of my truck to take to my dad's house when I noticed I had a flat tire! What?! Oh great! I had no idea when Greg was going to be home...I still hadn't heard from him which led me to believe he was still out of range. Any friends I could call would be in church. AAA expired at the end of May and I didn't renew it (yet) - guess now was as good a time as any to renew! The tow truck guy that AAA sent out showed up within a couple of hours and changed my tire for me. :-) Then I made another trip to Walmart to get the tire fixed. I'm starting to REALLY APPRECIATE my dear husband right about now...and pray for his safety and traveling mercies on his trip home.

He finally made it home about 7:00 last night...the three of us cuddled in bed together and watched a movie. Ahhhh, home sweet home!
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Friday, July 3, 2009

Mystery Shopping

We have been in our own home for almost one year now. The end of August will be a year. Right before we bought this house I had started doing some mystery shopping. That led to finding out about merchandising (which is an extension of a lot of mystery shopping companies) and something I have started doing more here recently.

When you sign up for a mystery shopping company...and I NEVER PAID TO SIGN UP AND YOU SHOULDN'T EITHER!! have choices of:
  • mystery shopping
  • auditing
  • merchandising
  • demos
  • surveying people
  • theater checks
I personally didn't want to survey people or be a demo person (give away food in grocery stores, etc) so I always chose mystery shopping, auditing and merchandising. Auditing is simply going into a business and checking to make sure they have everything in order according to the "plan" that I print off from the internet. With all these companies a printer is definitely required! I have to print so many reports!

Most Mystery Shopping requires you spend some money up front and then you'll be reimbursed. Some pay additional money besides your reimbursement; some don't. I never accept any jobs where I had to put out a lot of money upfront except one time at Christmas. It was for a trendy store in the mall where I could spend up to $50.00 and they would reimburse the whole amount...I knew I could find a Christmas present in that store for one of my kids so I accepted that job and I was reimbursed for that purchase.

These are examples of mystery shopping jobs I accept on a regular basis:
  • spend $1.00 for a parking garage assignment and then get paid $10.00 plus reimbursement
  • spend up to $2.00 at convenience store and get paid $7.00 plus reimbursement
  • did this one time - acted like I needed a storage place from storage rental - spent no money out of pocket but got paid $15.00
  • I do restaurants I like to eat at (not allowed to name them) but they have been some of my favorites and my total meal for my family has been reimbursed - no extra pay, just reimbursement.
Merchandising is the job I have enjoyed the most. There have been a wide range of jobs I've completed that fall under this category. I'm currently working for 5 different merchandising companies. Two of them I am an Independent Contractor and the other three I'm actually on the payroll as a W2 employee. But all of the companies have a job board or some way of notifying me of what jobs are available and I accept or deny them...I don't have to work any job that doesn't fit into my schedule or I'm not qualified for.

RelianceMart5Image via Wikipedia

Some of the merchandising jobs I've done lately are:
  • Publix - and open up boxed candy bars and put them out for sale as single bars.
  • Publix - keep up with a coffee display for the month of June (keep it clean and order the coffee that's needed)
  • Sam's Club - count the Gatorade, Tropicana and Frito Lay pallets on display
  • Publix - reset the entire chip row (worked with a team)
  • Dollar General - reset the men's/boy's Fruit of the Loom displays
  • Family Dollar - hung up new signs around the store; took down the old signs
  • Shell gas station/Kangaroo Express - this is what I did this last week...Kangaroo Express bought out a bunch of Shell gas stations and for the last 5 days a team of us cleaned out all the old stuff in the store and brought in all new counters and merchandise and set it up in one day - 5 stores in 5 days.
This is just an example of the different types of Merchandising jobs available. There have been many more but you get the drift. It's a fun job because I interact with lots of different people and I have a flexible schedule and the pay is great!

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Customer Service

Greg and I are always discussing an organization's customer service skills. Greg is in the customer service industry and he takes great pride in trying to defuse tempers and please customers...with a smile on his face. Recently I've had several incidences dealing with customer service that have made an impact - some negative, some positive - but it's made me start really thinking about where I am going to spend my money. I would think in this day and age, with the economy the way it is, that businesses would go out of their way to offer exceptional customer service.

I had to work out of town Friday. I am doing a lot of merchandising work these days and my job for Friday was setting up a store. After I dropped Greg off at work I was going to hop on the interstate and start my 45 min drive to the store in Alabama. We live two miles from Greg's office. After I pulled into his office complex and dropped him off, I would have ordinarily headed back out to the main road and taken a left, driven two miles (passing our house) and gotten on the interstate. However, I decided I wanted to grab breakfast before I got on the interstate...we were out of milk at home due to Dakota's late night snacking...grrrrr.

So that got me to I go to the left and run through McDonald's drive through which is right at the entrance to the interstate or do I continue on straight and drive 3 miles, go to Chick Fil-A (which has awesome customer service!) and then keep going straight for another 7-8 miles through traffic and red lights to get on the interstate at another on-ramp? Yeah, well if you guessed Chick Fil-A you guessed right.

I've had two bad experiences at THAT McDonald's lately and I told myself "forget it! I am not going there anymore!" Between my house and THAT McDonald's there is an Arby's, Capt D's, Subway, Taco Bell, Chinese Fast Food, Sushi place, and a Mexican I need them?? Heck no!

Good Customer Service
I ordered something online from and after waiting a month for it to come in I received an email one day that my order was canceled. When I looked at my credit card statement it looked like I had been charged for this order so I called customer service to ask them about this. They assured me I had not been charged (and after further inspection I saw where the charge was reversed) but after talking to the customer service rep for a few minutes and letting her know I really was not very happy with the way this was handled...the fact that I had been waiting every day for this order to come in and then just out of the blue they canceled the order with no explanation...she apologized profusely and gave me a $20.00 credit for future use. I was really surprised! I wasn't expecting anything. I just wanted them to know I wasn't happy with this.

What happened during this phone call though was because of her great customer service skills and her listening to me express my frustration and then offering me a $20.00 credit she completely changed my opinion of I had no intention of ever shopping there again BEFORE I made this phone call. When I got off the phone with her, I was smiling and actually looking forward to spending my credit!

Last example - remember my flowers from Flowerama I told you about the other day? Greg and I talked about it more and he called them Saturday. Long story short - they apologized and told him to come back in and they would replace the flowers. I pulled the dead flowers out of my other 3 vases and I divided my new roses and lilies up between the older flowers. Their comment..."we're sorry about this and we want to make it right." Great customer service!

Aren't they beautiful?

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