Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Birthdays

I love birthdays. I especially love to make people feel special on their day because they deserve it. Maybe it is because my mom resented me for being born on my parents 3rd wedding anniversary. I always felt that 'sting' growing up. I worked through it and have accepted 'what is.' I love to tell my kids on their birthday that the day they were born moved me to a joy unspeakable. We set our watches to the exact time and get a little excited and crazy when the time hits.

I think everyone wants to be remembered on their birthday, even if they say they don't. It is that one day you and others get to celebrate YOU and the life you've been given. Yes, I do mind getting "older" and signs of it are starting to show, but it is all part of the journey. Birthdays are the perfect time to do a life review. That's what I like to call it anyway. Thankfully, I have kept several journals throughout my 41st year so it easy for me to read back and contemplate.

I ask myself if I have accomplished what I set out to do; I ask myself what life lessons I have learned in the past year; I ask myself what do I want to change and how do I want to grow. I think to the new relationships I have, and the ones I had to let go of; and I ask myself who I need to forgive and what needs to stay in the past. I reflect back on the many gifts I've been given in just one year's time. There are just too many to count.

I saw this cartoon on Facebook, and it just jumped out at me. It is one those pictures that "is worth a thousand words." I hope you get the deep, yet simple message behind it. It is about letting go of things that don't serve me anymore, even though I may love them or think I need them. It's about trusting in someone other than myself and loving Him more than a thing or person or whatever. It's called simple trust.

I'd say this is the perfect message to begin my 42nd year. I am going to print it and tape it to the inside of my "new" journal (you know how I love those!) to help remind me every day. May you remember just how special you are on your birthday and every day.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Secret Shopping

I look orange. I am not kidding. A day later and now my skin is looking more and more "orange" from that sunless tanning session I had yesterday for my secret shopping job. I am starting to wonder if that one was worth it?! I think about my time, payment, gas mileage, report time and  out-of-pocket money expenses before accepting a job. I don't think I will be doing this one again. I guess looking orange for a few more days goes with the territory.

I've had so many people asking me questions about my "job," that I thought I would blog about it to share my experience. It definitely has been a great conversation starter and keeper. People just find what I do fascinating for some reason. Some days I even find it fascinating. I must say my life has been very interesting since February when I became a "mystery shopper" or "shadow shopper," whatever you prefer.  I pretty much 'bumped' into this job by accident. A friend of mine is also a secret shopper, and we got to chatting about it one day at the gym. She happened to mention it in passing. It sparked my interest, so I asked her for the website information. I registered with the company, and I began to be assigned mystery shops. It was that simple.

My first mystery shops were for cell phone stores. They didn't pay much, but I was after the experience more so than the money at that point. I was assigned to go into a certain cell phone retailer and "pretend" I was interested in purchasing a smartphone. I was given complete, detailed instructions I needed to follow. Then I needed to complete an online report about my experience, upload a business card and evaluate the sales process. That first one went pretty smoothly and was easy enough, so I signed up for more shops.

I moved onto college admissions, apartment leasing, gym memberships, audits, phone mortgage inquiries, restaurant reviews; furniture, mattress, and jewelry "shopping." The list goes on and on. The best part has been test driving a brand new Porsche, Infinity and Kia. Or when I "tried on" a $2,500 diamond necklace. Darn! I really wanted to take that one home with me.

It has been kinda' fun to take on the role of  'the lady interested in buying that brand new Porsche' when I drive up in my 14-year old, about-to-drop dead rusted Mercury Sable. The scenario I provide can be quite outrageous and humorous, but believable. I am just following a script and role playing for the most part; I think I've found my niche.

I am not sure how long this job will last for me, but I must say it's been fun, very interesting and worth my time, for now. I am considering an editing position with one of the companies I work for just to keep things interesting. I am very thankful. I like to pass along the information for those of you who are interested. I've met many new people and have a brand new awareness of customer service; that's for sure. I find it hard to get out of secret shopping mode when I go anywhere now!

For those of you who asked me for the mystery shopping information, here it is: sign up and register for the "free" first month at www.shadowshopper.com. They will email you companies that are looking for secret shoppers. From there, you will need to register with each company, which can be time consuming but worth it. They, in return, will send you emails when they have job assignments in your area. Good luck and have fun! Any questions? You know where to find me :)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Answered Prayer

Today I was assigned the job of "carpool mom" in charge of transporting five very rambunctious, high energy, prepubescent and smelly (for real!) boys to a skate park they like to frequent often. When I dropped them off I said something like, "I'm going to be praying for you guys to be safe." Luke is so used to me saying stuff like this that he was already headed to the park. One of the other boys stopped what he was doing, looked at me and said, "Does that ever work? Have you ever seen that happen?"

Honestly, I was a little taken off guard by this deep, soulful question, coming from this young boy all but twelve-years of age. I answered immediately without thinking, "Absolutely, it works. I've seen it happen many times." I had wanted to say more, but off he went to play. I would've liked more time to explain myself further. Or maybe I didn't need to.

So, on the ride home I got to thinking about this thing called prayer and this boy's simple, yet honest question. What he was really asking me... Can I trust God? I started thinking about what I would say to him if he asks again. I started to reflect on my own life and when my prayers have been answered.

And when they haven't.

When the questions come, I will tell him that God answers my prayers every single day when my family comes home safe and sound. And that's just the beginning. I will tell him of two examples in recent months when God answered my prayers for a cancer-free diagnosis for my loved ones. I will also tell him of the times when my prayers have been answered with a "maybe" or a "no" or a "wait." I will tell him how my faith has been my rock all of my life, through it all.

This boy is a person I would call a "wise soul." There is just something 'special' about these kinds of people. My daughter is one of them; they just are wise beyond their years and very intuitive. I suspect more questions are going to come.

Well, I've known him for years, and I know he's dealing with some pretty tough family issues. The same issues I've dealt with. Deal with. My heart just breaks for him; we help whenever we can. Then I remember with gratitude all of the adults that were coincidentally "placed" in my life at just the "right time" throughout my 41-years. More answered prayer. How easy it is to miss it.

I feel better knowing he'll be taken care of, too.

I've heard it said that all it takes is one person in an abused child's life to make a difference in how that child turns out. I know this to be true. My hope is that with my quick, to-the-point answer that he 'got' my resounding, "Yes!"