Monday, February 26, 2007

Fed Up, or The World's Worst Customer Service

I am on hold. I am waiting to talk to Sprint about a charge we want to dispute from our last bill.

I have been on hold for three hours and eighteen minutes. I am listening to bad music, and every five minutes or so, a friendly lady reassures me that "All of our representatives are currently assisting other customers. Please hold, and your call will be answered in the order it was received."

Originally I was told the estimated wait time was 15-20 minutes, and I was annoyed. Little did I know I'd still be on the phone over three hours later.

At what point do you give up? I have done just about all the things I can do while on hold, and I have better things to do than to sit here and continue waiting. But if I hang up, what then--call back later and wait another three hours?? Do they think they can just wear you out so they don't have to actually hear your complaint?

Three hours, 22 minutes...still waiting...

While I Was Out

Events at our house this past weekend seemed an awful lot like an episode of TLC's "While You Were Out"! I had the immense blessing of flying to Denver for a few days to visit some dear friends. While I was gone, my generous father-in-law--the man I have to thank for my husband's remodeling skills and knowledge--came down to help Steve work on the house. Their weekend agenda: move/rebuild the stairs, knock out a wall, add a support beam and cut a hole in my dining room.

From the sounds of things, I'm glad I wasn't here.

However, when I arrived home on Saturday night, the house wasn't a total disaster--in fact, it was exciting to come back to a very different dining room/hallway/staircase! It all looks rough right now because they just used the old treads and risers to make "construction" steps. Later they'll be covered with wood treads and white risers, but with lots of work still going on, drywall sheets to be hauled upstairs, etc., there's no sense in tearing up the nice wood. I expect it will look like this for a good long while before we get the finished steps put in, plus handrail, newel post, trim, etc. So in the meantime, here are the "before and now" pictures...

Before: Standing in the dining room and looking into the hallway. The doorway into the kitchen is on the left; the open door you see in the hall is the bathroom. Our bedroom is just to the right of the bathroom door, out of sight in this view. The door to the steps is in the hallway, just around the corner (across from the bathroom).

Now: What a difference! The walls are gone, the support beam is in, and the stairs have been moved about two feet toward the dining room so that the first step is flush with the wall. Obviously a little plaster-patching needs to be done :)

Before: The view from our bedroom. Here you can see how the stairs are closed off by a door; you walk in and turn on a small landing before heading up the steps.

Now: No more door, no more landing, no more wall!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

...And Baby Makes Three!

For those of you who missed the last post, or are just a little slow on the uptake: I'm pregnant!

We had the joy of announcing to our parents at Christmas that they were going to be grandparents (this baby will be the first grandchild on both sides, so it goes without saying that he or she will probably be spoiled within an inch of his/her life :) If I've seen you in person since then, I probably told you--but for whatever reason, I decided to wait to announce our big news here until after we heard the heartbeat. I guess I needed some reassurance that it's actually real!

Steve and I went to the midwife on Friday afternoon and heard an incredible sound: a tiny, beating heart. Though even after hearing it, and after having lived with the news that I'm pregnant for over two months now, it all still feels very surreal.

Thanks so much to those of you who offered congratulations and asked how I am feeling. Details for the interested: I am actually feeling great. My energy level has been good, and though I did deal with nausea throughout the first trimester, it was not nearly as bad as it could have been. Now that I'm in the second trimester it has really tapered off. My belly is just starting to become noticeable with clothes on--though it's still at the point where it's debatable if I'm pregnant, or have just put on a few pounds :) I'm going to a certified nurse-midwife instead of an OB-GYN, but I'll deliver at the hospital, not at home. My ultrasound won't be until the end of March, and at this point, we're strongly leaning toward not finding out the gender.

I am 15 weeks along, so, Lord willing, we will be welcoming this little one into our family sometime around the middle of August. (Hence the sudden urgency to finish the upstairs!) We are praising God for this blessing and anticipating His grace for this new journey that has only begun...

Monday, February 19, 2007


I don't remember how it happened. But somehow, as a senior in high school, I became the mother of Steve's baby.

His egg baby, that is.

We were taking the required Family Relations class that spring--a generally fun and easy (and even somewhat informative) class that brought the seniors back together at the end of our high school years. Everyone had to pair up and assume responsibility for an egg baby for a couple of days, and I vaguely remember thinking how great it would be to have Steve as my partner (I was gone over him by this time, though we wouldn't start dating for another three years). We were close friends, and at least once a week, someone was either asking me if we were dating or telling me we should be, so it seemed (to me) only natural that we'd co-parent an egg baby. But I can't recall the details of how we actually became partners. He must have suggested it--I never would have had the nerve. Which means I probably then over-analyzed his suggestion, and ran with the idea that we were parents! together! meaning, like a married couple! (Never mind that it was an egg.)

But I digress. I was absent the day the eggs were actually passed out, which meant Dad was in charge. That's how our baby got the name "Steve Junior," and also why he promptly died that afternoon.

Steve had picked up our baby from "daycare" (Mrs. Widmer's classroom, where the babies stayed during the day while we were in school) and was carrying him up the steps to go home. He turned his wrist to look at his watch--apparently not realizing that the egg was in that hand, or that the turning motion would flip the egg out of its container. SPLAT went Steve Junior, all over the stairs, right in front of Mrs. Widmer. Thankfully she was gracious enough to give Steve a replacement egg rather than failing us on the project. (She was pretty cool.)

All that to say, I think maybe it's a good thing that this time around, I'm the one carrying the baby--at least until August. After that, I'm sure Steve will be much more responsible than he was with the egg. (And no, if it's a boy, we will not be naming him Steve Junior.)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Blogger by Day, Amateur Electrician by Night

See that? I did that! For those of you who don't know, it's a receptacle box for a light switch. I nailed it to the stud and ran all those wires through it. Bet you didn't know I moonlight as an electrician, did ya?

Last Saturday, Steve asked if I'd help him work on wiring the upstairs. I was skeptical, since I know absolutely nothing about electricity. I never understood it even in junior high science class--biology was much more my thing. But I figured if he could use a couple of extra hands, I was willing to give it a try. At first he was going to have me drill holes through all the studs...ha ha. I'm not nearly strong enough to push the drill through effectively :) So he had me nailing up the receptacle boxes and then running wires between them. Eventually I got the hang of it and was quite proud of myself!

We're now ready for our first electrical inspection. Then it's time for insulation and drywall! But first, the moving of the stairs...stay tuned for pictures of that process next week. Should be interesting.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 21

This week, thanking God for...
  • this man
  • fresh flowers from him yesterday
  • oldies love songs
  • the prospect of a Qdoba date with him tomorrow night
  • this friend
  • emails from family and friends
  • a clean dog
  • the coffeehouse in town
  • people who comment and interact with the things I write here
  • Oreo cookies (though the package I bought last weekend for the first time in ages reminded me why I cannot keep those in the house)
  • pretty stationery
  • funny cards
  • my parents
  • the feeling of finally getting warm and toasty after you've been shivering
  • the cross, which bought my acceptance as His child so I don't have to try and earn His favor through my performance
  • His unfailing love
  • His generosity and provision

Your turn below (or on your own blog)...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day: Then and Now

February 14, 2003. I sat in my townhouse and finally opened an envelope that had been taunting me for days. It was postmarked from Cincinnati, and was clearly marked "Do not open until February 14!" It happened to be from the guy who had taken me out on our very first official date just two weeks earlier, and in it, he told me why he was glad to be starting this new relationship.

The next day, I would risk life and limb to see him, driving three hours (it should have taken half that) in a snowstorm to have dinner with him. Few moments in my life have carried the feeling of sweet relief like the moment I safely parked my car at the restaurant and got a bear hug from Steve. It was really stupid for me to have made the trip...but what can I say? Love does that to you :)

February 14, 2007. I woke up to a kiss and a goodbye that left me to find post-it notes all over the house, telling me why he loves me. Tonight, Lord willing, he'll come home and we'll have dinner together as husband and wife, no snowstorm, no worrying over what I'm going to wear or nerves in the pit of my stomach. Today I am thanking God yet again for this incredible blessing He has brought into my life--this man who shows me each day what love truly is by the ways He loves me sacrificially, faithfully.

He is patient with my faults and failures; he is kind. He does not envy, he does not say "I told you so," he is not arrogant. He is not rude. He serves me consistently, generously, selflessly. He does not get angry. He keeps no record of my sins against him. He protects me and trusts me; he has unswerving hope for our marriage and for God working in me. And by God's grace, he and I will persevere, loving each other more every Valentine's Day.

Love Demonstrated

At small group on Sunday night, I shared as a prayer request with the other ladies (we separate for part of the time--the guys watch the kids while the gals study a book about being a godly wife; the gals watch the kids while the guys study about being a godly husband). I knew I had a busy, busy week coming up with freelance work on my plate, and my time management has been absolutely rotten lately. So I asked for prayer that I would manage my time well and accomplish the things I need to get done. One of the girls asked if it would be okay for them to ask me about how it was going--to sort of follow up. I was a little surprised but said yes, absolutely. Any accountability is helpful.

Monday I buckled down--set a bunch of ground rules for myself and told Steve about them--and it went really well. I was able to get 9.25 hours of work in! Yesterday wasn't nearly so good, for a variety of reasons I won't get into (some legitimate and some not), but I did still manage 5 hours. And I wasn't so concerned about cramming the hours in because one of the freelance projects I thought would make me crazy-busy looked like it was going to fall through.

Today, I was a total deadbeat all morning. I spent a lot of time randomly surfing the internet and didn't even make the pretense of opening the files for my project. I ate some lunch and told myself I'd get to work right after that--then got distracted again. Suddenly the phone rang.

It was one of the girls from small group. Calling to check up on me. Not in a stern, judgmental, "YOU BETTER BE WORKING HARD" way, but in a "I just wanted to let you know that I've been praying for you and I wanted to see how things were going this week" way. I was totally blown away, and blessed. I confessed to her that I actually hadn't gotten any work done this morning, but that I was just about to settle in and get to it--that her phone call was perfect timing to remind me that I needed to get a move on.

As I hung up the phone, I thought, "You know, there's an unconventional but perfect Valentine's Day example of what love looks like in real life." (Not to mention a simple example of church relationships going deeper--see below post.) This isn't my best friend--she's not someone I've grown close to yet. But she cared enough about me to not just say she'd pray for me, or join in the group prayer for me that night and then forget about it, but to actually take my request to God. She cared enough to take it even further--to call me, to spur me on toward the growth and godliness I said I wanted. If that's not love...I don't know what is.

It meant enough to me that I had to blog about it. But now, I really have to get back to work. At least the files are open now :)

Monday, February 12, 2007

What It's Supposed to Be

Food for thought...

For most Christians corporate church life is a Sunday morning worship service and that's all. A smaller percentage add to that a class of some kind, perhaps Sunday morning or Wednesday evening in which there is very little interpersonal ministry. Now don't misunderstand me, I believe in the tremendous value of corporate worship and I believe that solid teaching times are usually crucial for depth and strength. But you simply can't read the New Testament in search of what church life is supposed to be like and come away thinking that Worship services and classes are the sum total of what church was supposed to be.

--John Piper

New Blogger

Blogger has finally forced me to switch over to the New Blogger. They won't let me click "No thanks, take me to my dashboard" any longer. I am less than thrilled. I hate change.

The categories might be nice though. If I get around to using them. We'll see.

Friday, February 09, 2007


It's the week for annoying blog problems, I guess. Anyone else been having problems with captchas? Twice now I've tried to comment on blogs--most recently over at Nashville is Talking--and can't because I get that obnoxious little red X instead of the picture of numbers/letters for me to type in as verification. No matter how many times I hit refresh, or how many times I right click and tell it to "Show Picture," I can't get around it.

Have you ever had that problem here? Or anywhere else? I don't get it. Never happened to me before until yesterday.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

My Husband, the Engineer

Thought I would pass along a funny little clip Steve ran across yesterday. It gave me a good laugh, though it might not be as hilarious if you're not married to an engineer.

For those of you who do appreciate the humor (do I have any fellow engineer wives among my readers?), you'll also want to check out this one. Funny because I can SOOO see Steve saying some of those lines: "It's not that it's's unnecessary." Engineers. Always wanting to tinker and make things more complicated "because it's cool!"

Thankful Thursday, Take 20

This week I'm thanking God for...

  • snow, finally
  • warmer temperature on Tuesday--it's sad that I'm calling 40 degrees "warm," but at least one day when Hank and I went for our afternoon walk I didn't feel like my face would fall off
  • not having to pay more money in taxes like we feared, but actually getting a refund
  • belts
  • His compassion
  • vegetable soup
  • warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies
  • the amazing people I've "met" only through blogs
  • good news from a friend
  • my dishwasher
  • my wonderful co-counselors at GEMS
  • the hope of spring
  • His unchanging faithfulness and constancy in every season


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

To Dyson or Not to Dyson?

OK, talk to me about vacuum cleaners. Specifically, Dysons.

I know, I know, so exciting. But I'm dying to get a new vacuum--ours is AWFUL. I was pretty satisfied with it at the apartment but now that we've got all hardwood floors it is completely worthless. Vacuuming makes me grouchy because I end up with a backache from having to use the tiny attachment throughout the house and drag the vacuum all over by the hose...ugh. I don't vacuum as often as I should because I hate doing it so much with this vacuum, and with a beagle who sheds more hair than should be possible...this is a bad thing.

So Steve finished our taxes last night and we're actually getting a nice chunk of change back from Uncle Sam, and my wonderful hubby says I can get a new vacuum. YAY!! I was determined I was going to save up to get a Dyson. They are so expensive, but I have heard such raves about them and figured it would be a good investment--would not have to be replaced in a couple of years and would make keeping the house clean SO much more enjoyable for me. But Steve looked on Consumer Reports and found that this Kenmore model was actually rated higher than the Dyson and it's $200 cheaper. It has great reviews on the Sears website and everything. He's convinced.

I'm not quite convinced to let go of the Dyson. Anyone have personal Dyson experience? Especially long-term? Is it really worth it? Comments are open...

Monday, February 05, 2007

What's the Deal?

...with Bloglines lately? Several of my favorite blogs haven't shown new updates lately...I find out when I visit the site anyway while wasting time clicking around absently and find the person HAS been writing lately and I've missed several posts. Stupid Bloglines. The whole point is so I don't HAVE to click through each blog all the time. Now I wonder what else I've been missing.

Anyone else having this problem? Or is it just me?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Don't Miss It

Is it too early to be thinking about events coming up in April? Well, here we are in February already...registration for this event is open and so I'm giving you locals a heads-up.

The Voice of the Martyrs will be holding their "Enduring Faith" Regional Conference at Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN on Saturday, April 21. It's free--and having heard one of the speakers, I can pretty much guarantee you it's going to be an extremely inspiring and provocative conference, no doubt worth your time. Why not devote just one Saturday to learning more about your persecuted brothers and sisters worldwide?

Speakers include:
  • Gracia Burnham and husband Martin were held captive for over 1 year in the Philippines by a terrorist group. She tells their story in her books “In the Presence of Mine Enemies” and “To Fly Again.”
  • Mujahid El Masih from Pakistan was committed to live a life of Jihad until Jesus brought true peace. He travels throughout the US sharing testimony and teaching about Islam.
  • Getaneh Getaneh from Ethiopia was imprisoned and suffered for his faith when communism came to his country. He is one of the key figures God has used to raise today’s current understanding of the persecuted church.
  • Darcie Gill has served as VOM Representative for 9 years and has traveled to China, Vietnam, India, Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other restricted nations.
  • Robert Brock has served as VOM Representative for 14 years and has traveled to Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos, Sudan, Iran, Pakistan and other restricted nations.

For more info or to register for the conference, click here. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thankful Thursday, Take 19

This week I'm thanking God for...

Your turn...if you're doing Thankful Thursday on your own blog now, post a link in the comments! Otherwise feel free to add yours right here.

Hide the Word: How?

The method is simple enough: Read the verse 10 times out loud, then cover the page and recite it 10 times out loud, peeking if you need to. And you're done for the day. The next day, review yesterday's verse first. Recite it 10 times out loud, looking if you need to. Then move on to the next verse, reading 10 times and reciting 10 times. Next day, review yesterday's verse first. Recite it 10 times, then recite all the verses you know once, then move on to the next verse. (For more explanation and tips, click here. I, like Piper, don't bother with the verse numbers--I know what chapter it's in, and approximately where, and that's good enough for me. I'd rather not have the numbers interrupting the flow of the passage.)

I started with Romans 8--and I was amazed at the impact it had on me. I found that lines of precious truth would run through my head at various times during the day, like song lyrics would. And I couldn't believe how many opportunities God provided to quote and apply the truths I had committed to memory--to remind myself of a promise, to encourage a friend in a struggle, to direct a prayer.

I also couldn't believe how easy it was--or how well this method encouraged long-term retention. How many of us have crammed for tests, only to forget all the information just hours later, let alone days or weeks? I know I've memorized Scripture before, only to have it fade from my memory eventually. But with this method, you're repeating what you know every day, which helps it to stick. And once you're all done with the passage, you continue repeating it once a day for 100 days. Sounds like a lot, but it doesn't take any time out of your busy day at all, because you don't have to look at your Bible to do this. So you can recite the passage while you're walking the dog, or doing dishes, or taking a shower.

You know what? It works. Three months later, I can still rattle off all of Romans 8 without even having to pause. It comes to mind every now and then, so I go through it--which keeps it fresh, and of course has the benefit of bringing my focus back to God and His truth during the mundane moments of the day.

And I'm convinced. Deliberately hiding God's Word in my heart has been a really meaningful practice for me, so I've continued with other passages. Soon I think maybe I'd like to tackle a whole (short) book. Or maybe Hebrews 9-10--I saw a video a while back of a man dramatically reciting these two chapters on the cross, and it was powerful! (As an aside--the method recommended in that link is the same one I'm recommending to you.)

I find it difficult to set my mind and heart on things above. It's so easy to be distracted and bogged down by the routines and demands of everyday life--or to shut your brain off and go on autopilot. But this discipline of spending just a few minutes a day (it really doesn't take very long) seeking to saturate my mind with God's Word helps me to keep my eyes on Jesus just a little more often every day. And isn't that the point?