Monday, November 23, 2009

Early to bed, early to rise...?

I am SO not a morning person.

But this morning, I took a deep breath and braved the dark, early hours of the morning... all in the name of "getting things done."

What has this world come to?

I obtained a wonderful 3rd shift job last Spring. What 3rd shift jobs are wonderful? The ones in which you are paid to sleep. =) Anyway, my shift ends at 6am, so instead of driving home, shuffling upstairs, and crawling into my nice, warm sheets... I stayed up.

Do you know what? It's like I added on a whole other half day to my day. It was great. I cleaned the basement, made a pan of brownies, had a leisurely breakfast, and went to the gym... all before going to work!

Will I continue this tradition? On an as-needed basis. My schedule lately has been beyond crazy. I have so many things on my to-do list that I'm not sure there are enough hours in the day for the next 2 weeks to get them all done unless I stop sleeping.

Another wonderful part of my morning was when I picked up this book that has been in my bathroom for quite some time. It's called "31 Days of Praise," and I randomly flipped to Day 11. Do you ever open the Bible or read something inspirational from a book that is exactly what you needed to see at that time? It's so encouraging... and this morning, that is exactly what happened. It was God's way of delivering to me a cup of comfort, and I loved it.

Here is an excerpt of what I was encouraged by...

"Thank You, my gracious and sovereign God, that You have been with me and carried me from the day of my birth until today...that You have known my whole life, from beginning to end, since before I was born...and that You wrote in Your book all the days that You ordained for me before one of them came to be.

Thank You that in Your gracious plan to bless and use me, You've allowed me to go through hard times, through trials that many people go through in this fallen world. How glad I am that You're so good at reaching down and making something beautiful out of even the worst situations! How encouraged I am when I think how You did this for Joseph, how his brothers hated and abused and betrayed him, and how You worked these things out for blessing, both for Joseph and his family and for countless other people.

I praise You that the things that happened in my past, both enjoyable and painful, are raw materials for blessings, both in my life and in the lives of others. So I thank You for the specific family (or lack of family) into which I was born and the opportunities You did or did not provide. And thank You for the things in my past that appear to be limitations, hindrances, bad breaks...the wounds of old hurts, the unmet emotional needs, the mistakes or neglect of others people-even their cruelty to me, their abuse.

How comforting to know that in all my distresses You were distressed. And how I thank You, Lord Jesus, that on the cross You bore my griefs and carried my sorrows, as well as my sings...that I can kneel at the cross and worship You as the One who took on Yourself all my pain and experienced it to he full. And how comforting to know that in the present, day by day, You feel with me any pain, confusion, inner bondage, or struggles that stem from my past. Thank You that all these seeming disadvantages are a backdrop for the special, unfolding plan You have in mind for me...and that if my past still handicaps me, You are able to lead me to the kind of help I need.

I'm so grateful that all my past circumstances were permitted by You to make me see my need of You and prepare my heart for Your draw me to Yourself, and to work out Your good purposes for my life. I rejoice that You are the Blessed Controller of all things-You are now, You will be throughout the future, and You always were. All my days had Your touch of love and wisdom, whether or not I can as yet fully see it.

And Lord, I choose to look beyond me past and present trouble is in this life-this temporary life- and fix my eyes on the unseen things that will last forever. i praise You for the eternal glory these things are piling for me as I choose to trust you."

Love you all!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

You've Got Mail

Being downtown has so many perks. One of my favorite parts is establishing relationships with people.

Normally, our mail man comes quite early-- around 9am. This is when Kristi and I arrive on most days, but on days that we are late or at a shoot, we miss the mail.

Today, I had dropped my car off to get fixed (down the road from where I work) and was walking to the office when the mail man saw me from afar and flagged me down.

"Hey!" he called. "I have some mail for you today, but you weren't there earlier when Is topped by. Wait just a minute."

He ran to his mail truck, shuffled through his stack, and gave me the piece.

On other various occasions, our Fed Ex and UPS delivery guys have seen we were gone and have remembered that we were located in my parents' house before, and have actually delivered there for us instead to make sure we got our package. Or, they have delivered our packages to a next door business for us to pick up later when we arrive.

None of this may seem like a big deal... but, it's the small things and simple acts of kindness that often speak to me the most. I love being able to establish these pleasant relationships... even if it's as simple as a "Hello, how are you today?" and a smile as I get handed a piece of mail.

Have a blessed day! Love you all!


Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Weekend 5

Well, I'm sitting here in the office on a late Sunday night. There are twinkle lights in our window. There's an empty popcorn bowl on the ground beside me. There's music playing from my speakers thanks to itunes. And I just finished up with about 2 hours of work on my church website job... still have many hours to go!

Kristi and I were busy at the end of last week getting the shop ready for Holidazzle! My mom did an awesome job of helping spruce up the front end of our place with her fun holiday items. We hung Christmas lights, painted snow on the windows, and lined up a bunch of yummy treats to serve on Friday night and Saturday. Friday night was a great turnout! We had a ton of people come through... so many, at times, that it was hard to move!! I think it was a great way for people to see our place and find out what we are.

Saturday and Sunday evening of this weekend was the Benefit Dinner. I sang in it this year. It's always a blessing! It's so neat to see how the songs come together, and it's really powerful to stand up on both of those nights and sing praises to the Lord in such a big choir. It sounds so cool! However, I will be thankful to have 1-2 nights now available in my week again, especially since my life only keeps getting busier!

Here are a few random highlights from my weekend:

1. Between Holidazzle, the Benefit Dinner, and church, I wore a total of 5 formal outfits. The wardrobe forecast for this next weeks looks like "casual, cute, and comfy."

2. I went bowling and scored a 63. I'm really good at bowling.

3. On Saturday night I ate 3 desserts. Creme brulee with berries. A banana split. Cookies 'n Cream shake from Steak 'n Shake. Tonight I ate 1 dessert. Peanut Butter Pie from One World.

4. I played a game where everyone picks a packet of sugar to put in their mouth, except that one of the packets has salt instead of sugar. Then, based off of everyone's facial expressions and reactions, you have to guess who has the salt in their mouth.

I picked the packet with the salt. My tongue almost burned off.

5. Frank Sinatra: A Jolly Christmas (purse) officially made his debut at the beginning of November and he's been accompanying me most everywhere!

Have a lovely day! Love you all!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Denying Coffee : Harder than it sounds

When I was at the conference this past weekend, my heart was moved to support a beautiful little girl from Honduras through Compassion. One of the speakers at the conference put it well: "We are often more concerned about our standard of living than we are about others living." He suggested that instead of buying the pumpkin spice latte that we think we need, just put a lot of sugar in some coffee. =)

This spoke directly to me, as I often treat myself with the luxuries of life. A specialty coffee drink, a big dessert, a new pair of shoes that are too fun to pass up. Do I need this stuff? No. But does it deliver some sort of temporary satisfaction? Absolutely. So much so that after awhile, I almost feel entitled to these things.

So, I made a deal that I would cut back my purchase of coffee drinks to one a week. To some of you, that still may seem like a lot... but you don't understand... my office is located in the center of 2 of my favorite coffee shops in Morton. Furthermore, I have a mild addiction to Starbucks. But I also have a coffee maker at home... and it works just fine. So if I can save even $5 a week on coffee, that money can now go to help this little girl in a country where just having 2 meals a day is a luxury.

The problem is, I told this all to Kristi. Yesterday, I was craving yogurt + berries from Eli's. But then, I also wanted a coffee drink to go with it.

"Taryn, it's only Tuesday," Kristi pointed out. "Are you going to be able to make it the rest of the week if this is the one you get?"

"Absolutely," I said. "No problem."

I was wrong. Today, we had a photo shoot in Peoria so swung by Panera on the way home for lunch. What did I want? Their mocha coffee drink. It's glorious. It really is. But thanks to Kristi's accountability, I said no.

And you know what? It was sad at lunch time, but as I sit here and type, it's not like I'm still in turmoil. It's often hard to deny yourself in the moment, but after the fact, it's always worth it. Whether it's a coffee drink or a serious sin you're denying, in the end, you've saved money, heartache, and guilt.

All afternoon and evening, Kristi and I jazzed up Imagine Artists with the help of both of our moms. There are now twinkle lights dangling from the windows, snow lining the edges, ornament-struck topiaries, and many sparkly gifts and items that will be on sale through the holiday season. It really all came together quite well, and I'm super-excited for the Holidazzle event this weekend! Stop on by and see us at our open house... we will have wonderful treats, specials, and gifts for sale!

Well... I should wrap it up. Just wanted to write a little, as I plan on holding up my end of the deal w/the blogging. I'll write if you read. I'll write even if you don't... because I love it. =)

Love you all!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Busy, but good!

So, I've decided to try to update more regularly by giving myself an easy blogging task. My job is to post something every day or so about the day, most likely concerning office life. Since that seems to be consuming a large portion of my time right now, that's probably what I'll write about.

However, I'll note that I just returned from an awesome weekend in Dallas, Texas! I road tripped down there with an SUV fulled of 6 others. We left Friday morning at 4am, arrived in TX about 4:30 pm, and attended the 1st session of the conference that night at 7. We heard Kay Warren & Francis Chan-- excellent speakers with great messages! God was surely present.

We stayed at my former room mates' relatives' house, and they were gracious enough to keep up on short notice! It was wonderful!! It seems as though everyone is so welcoming and warm down south. Saturday's conference started at 9am. The first speaker was Matt Chandler- he was excellent- and then we had 2 "connection sessions" + lunch with a ministry review of choice. I chose Prison Fellowship, as I've been getting actively involved with prison ministry at my home church. My connection sessions were also both good; one was about how to use art in the community, and the other was question-based discipleship. The last speaker of the day was Donald Miller.

The group walked around downtown for awhile, grabbed some supper, and then headed back about 7pm. Somehow, I ended up staying up all night long. I got myself into multiple AWESOME conversations; and at about 3am, I finished off the road trip as co-pilot for the 3-7:30 am shift. This was after sufficient snacks (popcorn, donuts, a banana, apple, etc.) We arrived home in the morning and topped it all off with blueberry pancakes.

I then did a mad dash for Morton and attended first service (a bit tardy, but I did make it) and stayed over the noon hour to serve as computer/website support, helping people in our church get signed up for the "Barnabas Group," a great service split into 8 groups to serve as help and outreach.

I went home after this and crashed for about 3 hours... then woke up to go out to dinner w/my family for my sister's birthday. Enjoyed steak and ice cream, went back home and slept for an hour in my cozy bed, and then woke up at 9:30 pm to go to my 3rd shift job.

Today is Monday, and it was a busy one in the office. We have a lot to get done this week, including preparation for Holidazzble this weekend!!! We will be hosting our open house this coming Friday/Saturday, so stop by if you're in the neighborhood! It's going to be a great time. We'll have snacks, handouts, and a raffle.

Tonight was "Girl's Night Out" for my sister, Tonya (we love to celebrate birthdays for about a week in my family!!!) I then came back to the office at about 9:30 to do some website work for my church web support job, 1 of 3 jobs in which I am currently employed =)

So on top of my busy life, I'll just throw in the responsibility to keep this blog updated =) Actually, I think I should do it... writing is good for me, and it's actually really a relaxing technique when I make the time to do it. I really love it, so hopefully I can pull it off... hold me to it!

Love you all!