Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Scents and Noses

I have spent the last week adjusting to life in an office. It's completely different from working in the great outdoors everyday. I admit, I'm looking forward to avoiding the Texas summer heat, but I miss the breeze and the nice days!

As the receptionist, I have a lot of advantages and disadvantages. Advantage, beautiful desk with a better view than most. view to the outdoors. Advantage, periodic moments of downtime. Disadvantage...nothing to do when everyone else is behind. Days like that drag on forever. On Good Friday, the girl training me, hoped that we would go home a couple of hours early (because they got to last year). We hurried to finish the mail and were ready at 3pm for them to send us home! However, they decided not to let us go. There were little to no offices open past that time in our 20-story building- the place was deserted. So, Vickie and I watched part of the Father of the Bride movie, beat her high score in "Fruit Ninja" on her iPhone, and talked- for 2.5 hours. Oh sure...we had about 10 phone calls in all that time!

I now have the front to myself as my trainers are only a phone call away. One of my duties is to "guard the People magazine." -I have never been a reader of the tabloids, but I admit on some downtime Monday afternoon, I decided to explore the magazine. For lovers of tabloids and People magazine- forgive me. I thought it was ridiculous! I will spare you my sarcasm. While I was reading the magazine, I'd have to stop to answer the phone. After one such interruption, I suddenly noticed a wonderful smell! Something clean...and a little flowery...a lotion? Where was that smell coming from? I listened to see if one of the ladies was headed towards the main entryway, but heard nothing. Hmmm....this was a mystery.

My mind began to really think hard. You know, marketing specialists will scent areas of buildings and stores to sell product- this is true! In the baby section of a store you might smell baby powder, in a flower shop, floral perfume, etc. etc. etc. "Maybe" I thought, "they are scenting our building?! But why? How would this floral-clean smell be related to legal paperwork??"

Then I realized how stupid that sounded and it occurred to me that it might be the cleaning ladies... As I was laughing at myself for my "blonde-ness" my fingers brushed a different texture on the magazine. Startled, I had forgotten it was there, I looked at it. You'll never guess: an advertisement for new Olay soaps! You can't imagine how hard I laughed at myself then! But, Olay just made a new customer- I have to have some of that incredible smelling soap!

The nose is a wonderful creation! Speaking of...we had an incident today in the office that resulted in a trip to the ER (and involved the nose!)

One of our accountants was heading down for lunch. She didn't really pay attention, so when the elevator doors opened she simply took a couple of steps forward, tripped, fell towards the handrail in the elevator...and it went dark. One of the other ladies just happened to be coming out of the lunch room nearby and pulled her out of the elevator!!! The elevator didn't level with the floor like it's supposed to do and was instead about 3 inches taller. That is a large difference. Our poor accountant waited for almost 30 minutes for the Emergency Response team to arrive and went down in the utility elevator on a stretcher. Because I was the receptionist, I got to be notified by the guys as to which hospital they were headed. I e-mailed my two bosses and had the pleasure of seeing my e-mail forwarded to the entire company. I'm glad there were no typos! That afternoon we learned that she had fractured her poor nose. I don't know if we'll be seeing her in the office tomorrow- I bet she needs some rest and pain killer!

Oh, the dull office...:)

Monday, April 18, 2011

From "The End" to "Once Upon a Time" in 12 hours...

Today I finished well. It was exactly 13.5 months to the day that I had worked for the plant nursery. It almost feels unreal to be done there. My coworkers signed a card and bought me a farewell cake- which was quite delicious! I spent my lunch break at the other location (the one where I spent my first 8 months with the company) saying goodbye to the other employees. I don't know how often I'll get down there or who I'll see. It feels strange to say goodbye- almost as if I'm a little Navy brat again and we're packing up to move. I almost cried on my drive home tonight.

Now, with that chapter in my life closed...tomorrow morning I will open the new one! Life in an strange that will be after a year outdoors!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunburns and Raccoons

In continuing with my last post, I followed that wonderful day with two more. On Saturday, the girls and I took our time getting ready for the morning and then drove downtown near my work. I showed them a place where they could study while I worked for 5 hours and afterwards we would meet up and hang out some more!

Upon arriving at work (my second to last day, it was!), one of my cashiers began telling me about a baby raccoon they had found the day before while I'd been off. It was so young it didn't even have its eyes open and one of the girls (who has experience raising kittens) had taken him home. In the middle of her story, a woman came rushing up to me and said "Um, there's a tiny baby raccoon by my car!"

Dreading the thought of seeing a dead animal I followed her to the car. There in the parking spot next to hers lay a tiny baby raccoon. Afraid to touch it in case he was dead, I grabbed a nearby stick and gently prodded him. There was no response and the woman was near tears, "I saw him take a breath before I came and got you! Maybe it was his last!"

A little disappointed and sad, I almost turned away when he moved. The "mothering" instinct kicked in and I scooped that baby up and headed inside. He was SO cold. Unhealthily cold. I remembered that in the Disney movie, 101 Dalmations, when the one puppy was thought dead the man rubbed him. And so it began. I spent part of my 5 hours checking on that baby and rubbing him down to keep him alive. The ladies inside ran hot water through the coffee pot and filled up one of their plastic ribbon baggies to make a hot water bottle for the tiny raccoon. The cashier who happened to have the brother raccoon from the night before, took him home during her lunch break and tried to get some kitten formula into him, but he didn't eat much.

She called me about it and was worried that his very actively exploring brother would scratch him up, so she was allowed to bring him back to the store where we could monitor him. It was an intense day inbetween the normal Saturday routine and the baby raccoon, I feared it would never end. Thankfully, the managers allowed the girl to leave work early so she could take the baby home and feed him and my friends arrived to pick me up!

We toured the Galleria, my Dad grilled burgers for all of us, and we watched a second musical.

Today was delightful! We decided to do our morning devotions on the beach! Therefore, we packed up our Bibles, notebooks, several towels and blankets (not that we were going to swim...), a few types of sunscreen and aloe vera lotions (good thing too!), and some beach equipment (i.e. an umbrella, shovels, a bucket, a water ball, and a kritter keeper (you never know when you might need to bring something home...;) )

It was gorgeous at Galveston! Except that it was a bit too windy. They have recently spread the beach with newly imported fine, white sand...which the wind blows everywhere! (My hair looked white and grey by the end of the day...) Unable to read in such a wind, we frollicked in the sand and skipped in the small waves! Melissa chased some seagulls and Jessie and I flopped down on the soft sand...and were thankful for the sunglasses keeping most of the sand out of our eyes. We all talked, built drip sand castles (a remarkable technique I learned in California), and visited my favorite souvenier shop (and the one my computer is named after) Murdoch's. For lunch, we dined at Joe's Crab Shack and then we headed towards home with a ten minute detour to gape at the two giant cruise ships docked nearby!

Jessie apparently does not burn much, I burn a little, and poor Melissa fries faster than popcorn pops in a microwave! As I sit here with cherry red shoulders and a pink nose, I am grateful that I do not have Melissa's lovely red legs! For all of that planning, we forgot to put on the sunscreen and left it in the car during our rush to get to the beach!

Oh well, it was the most perfect miniature vacation week!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Surgery and Friends

I hadn't realized until I saw them, how much I missed my friends!!! I have several young ladies that I am privileged to know, and two are currently visiting me: Jessie and Melissa. Being tackled and squeezed, strolling down the old town shops, and lying in the shade on picnic blankets has made today a vacation...and honestly, I won't be getting one this year so that's important. I have to make my days off into mini-vacations.

However, this morning, as I was cleaning up the front yard, I met some unruly thorns- one of which is now buried in my arm. It has been painful, literally a "thorn in my side" but I have ignored it because today has been delightful! Tonight as we finished our Chinese food and musical (Kiss Me Kate), I decided to quickly extract it.

Thankfully, Melissa, like me, enjoys this kind of thing so I had an accomplice. Jessie was a little squeamish so she held the magnifying glass (complete with LED light) and later was demoted to stenographer. (Which is how I've captured some of our quotes during "Surgery"!

I started with a safety pin and tweezers. However, the splinter is invisible...well, in too deep. Melissa then asked if I wanted to let her try. Ok, I thought, sure! I can't find it so I'll just let her try. 

"Hmm," she said, "you want to use my lance?" 
"Your what?" I asked, wondering what a lance was. In my mind those were giant weapons...
"Here, I'll go get it." and Melissa disappeared for a moment to return with what looked like a dental tool with a miniature spearhead on top!
My eyes could not have gotten any bigger. It looked VERY sharp.
"Ok, are you ready?" she asked with a smile. 
"Um, I don't know."
"You should get ice", she said.
"Ok, ice. Yeah that sounds good." I darted down the stairs for a bowl of ice and a paper towel.
When I returned my stool had been pulled out from under the desk to serve as the operating table.

I iced my arm for a little bit and we began. I couldn't watch. It's easier to imagine it hurts if you're watching it, you know. Jessie tried to distract me and asked me about butterflies. I don't have a favorite so it didn't work as well as she'd hoped.

"I need more ice!" I squeaked out.
"She needs something to bite on." Melissa said.
"No, I need to not feel my arm!" I replied. 
"They used to give people something to bite on when they amputated limbs." Melissa stated with the most serious face.
"Well, we are NOT amputating my arm." And then as I looked up at Jessie, she had the face Pascal makes (from the movie Tangled) when Rapunzel is healing Eugene's hand. "Why are you making that face?!" I laughed with her. And then a small tinge of pain made me hide my face again. 

Finally, Melissa gave up, she couldn't find the splinter. I wanted another go, so I asked for her scalpel and began to search the place on my arm where the splinter was hiding. 
"We just need to shave that layer of skin off." Melissa said. 
"Yes, well, we're not going to."

Eventually I announced to Jessie that surgery was closed for the evening. It might resume again tomorrow evening if my arm gets worse. I am looking forward to a half day of work and then more play time with my friends! 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The "I got the job!" E-mail

I just wanted to post the e-mail I sent this morning that briefly describes my experience job hunting. There is a ministry here in Houston called "Between Jobs Ministry" (it's actually based out of my church), and they help others in the following areas: network, make contacts, edit resumes, provide 10 free business cards (per person/ per week), meet Weds mornings and have devotionals, practice interviews, and send out job opening info, etc.

Once a person finds a job, they send an e-mail to the head with the title "Doing the dance!" or "I got the job!" and the head will usually pass it along through the e-mail network to the group. Below is mine.

Dear BJMers,

This is my story and if you don't have time to read it, I hope you won't delete it until you do! God is a miracle worker and I wanted you to hear about His work in my life! Be encouraged!

A little over a year ago I attended my first BJM meeting in February. I had just graduated from a great school (A&M) but had no idea what I wanted to do about finding a job. I was encouraged and intimidated by my first meeting.

Within a few weeks I attended a job fair back up in College Station and received what I believed to be a miracle job at the time. I had one year's worth of college loans to pay off and set to work. However, I always checked the BJM e-mails- almost like a secret admirer or maybe a stalker...

Anyway, things did not go well at this job. They thought that I was doing well and really admired me, so they transferred me to the other location which was on the edge of Katy. This was bad because I live in Spring. I mentioned to them that moving would add additional costs to me that I couldn't really afford, but they ignored me. It was a type of retail that related to my degree (Horticulture) and I was in a turmoil. So many people needed jobs and I wanted to look for a new one.

I became a more passionate BJM e-mail stalker. I never applied to anything that I knew I wasn't qualified for, and watched great jobs slip away day by day. I couldn't attend the meetings because of work. For awhile, I didn't want to celebrate when others sent THIS e-mail. Any e-mail titled: got the job!, doing the dance!, etc. (I am sorry to admit) went straight into my trash folder. I didn't want to hear about others doing well when I was not...and I have missed out on any encouragement they may have sent along with notice that they could leave the BJM group.

For the last couple of months I have been avidly submitting applications to jobs on all the big sites, completed several interviews, and re-edited my resume countless times! Suddenly, when I was beginning to despair (this job hunting is a major emotional rollar coaster by the way...frustration, bitterness, dispair, hope, dashed hope,doubt, major self-criticism, faint hope, and lastly (this WILL happen for all of you) enthusiastic joy as you say yes to the job!

Two days ago, I walked into another interview (I had to schedule the earliest possible so that I could get to work on time). I had a huge sense of peace, had typed up some good interview questions modeled after ones I found on the internet, and was early to my appointment. They were running late and instead of being worried that I might be late to work or feeling offended that my time was being spent in a chair when I could be doing other things, I prayed. I prayed so much...but they weren't "Please let this be the one/ can I have this job?" prayers. I sincerely thanked God for the opportunity to attend another interview and left it in His hands.

I don't think I could even write down exactly how that interview went, because I didn't really do it. Casual, honest, and confident I smiled when they told me they needed to meet with a few others and left. With a sigh I pushed the elevator button and headed home. Rushing through a quick brunch I headed to my job. The one that I couldn't afford the gas much longer to get to.

The day was not a good one. In retail you have stressful days where things can go wrong, and I happened to be in charge of the store that day. Employees were not where they were supposed to be and it seemed as if every type of frustrated customer presented themselves that morning. I prayed for help to make it through. I knew I didn't want to work there much longer.

Just when I had made it to the office for a moment to breathe, my cell phone rang. Assuming it was one of my bosses I pulled it out of my pocket and looked at it. It was a number I didn't have saved and so I answered it. Guess what?! They had enjoyed their interview with me and wanted me to start next week! I was thrilled! I wanted to give my employer at least a week's notice, so I asked to push my start date back from Monday to Tuesday. I knew if they said no then it would probably not be the place God wanted me, however they agreed!

One last thing I should mention: I had made the final payment on my loan and credit card bill that morning! I guess God had me at that job just long enough to get out of debt! Isn't that a miracle? Who knew? I just wanted you to know that if it's possible, I would like to stay on the BJM network- but only receive e-mails about prayer requests! Prayer is so important. As one of my favorite radio stations says: God listens!

I hope that this brief glimpse into my life has encouraged someone!
God bless as you continue the job hunt! He has great things in store for you, don't doubt it!

-Hannah Beard

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Prayer Group

Well, I have never considered myself an incredible "pray-er". I used to cringe during group prayer meetings when I was a young teen. What would I say? What if someone else already said it? Why have multiple people pray? Why have everyone in the group pray? 

It was something that intimidated me. Prayer was conversation with GOD. How amazing! As a little girl, I remember talking to Him about everything. I would often plead with Him to change Satan's Mom had many conversations with me about how that was not a possibility, but when I was five I couldn't understand.

In junior high, with the local youth outreach group, they would have outreach prayers. I remember dreading my turn, rushing through a couple of sentences, and breathing a sigh of relief when it was over! 

Over the course of the years I sat in on several different talks and sermons concerning prayer. I considered myself a good "pray-er" when no one else could hear what I said to God. 

It wasn't until my last semester of college that I began to really delve into the study and habit of praying with a group. As a member of the Navigator student ministry and part of the leadership team, I was given a position to serve. I had previously been involved on the events or sports committee, and was told that they would like me to be a part of the prayer team. 
"What?!" I thought, "why, God? I am not good at that! How can I possibly lead or even be a regular to a weekly prayer group?"

The other members of the team were wonderful friends of mine and while I looked forward to seeing them every week, I felt humiliated and discouraged about praying in front of them and taking turns leading. I was supposed to be mature and wise as a graduating senior, however I felt like a visiting high school student.

As we picked our time, early in the morning in the middle of the week (I an NOT a morning person), I inwardly groaned. "What trial is this? It's going to be a long last semester." 
The semester began, and as it progressed, my attitude and perception of prayer changed as well. I could talk to God no matter what. Group prayer was not so bad, they were all taking turns talking to Him too! And listening to the things they prayed taught me how to pray. There were things they would pray about that I had not considered and verses that we looked over which I'd read several times before, but leapt off the page during our prayer group time! Sometimes we would separate and pray about things we needed to deal with, some days we would spend most of the time going over the prayer requests from the students in the ministry, and some we would spend almost solely with our heads bowed taking turns praising God. One of the guys was assigned to foreign needs and ministries that we could pray for and we learned much about certain countries that semester as well!

I was sorry to graduate in December and miss the next semester. I had fallen in love with prayer group time and grown so much. It was with great pleasure that I sneaked into the prayer meeting the morning of my job fair. That morning reminded me how much I loved praying with others and for others. Of course that afternoon I got a job, which I still have, and haven't had the chance to visit since. I don't even know who is part of the prayer team anymore or where they meet as most of my friends have graduated too.

One thing I do know. I still have much to learn about prayer! Communication with God is something to treasure and to initiate on a daily basis. We are reminded by God Himself to "pray without ceasing" and "at all times"! (1 Thess 5:17, Eph 6:18). 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Faced with Death

When is the last time you faced death? Or have you ever?

What do you think about? How do you feel?

I only ask because I faced death for a few moments yesterday.

I remember when I was a teen and learning how to drive. Going above 30mph was terrifying...and I didn't want to touch the highway. We lived in Nebraska at the time, and the roads and highways are MUCH simpler than they are in Houston. However, I had never seen Houston, and those highways surrounded by corn fields were enough to give me the shakes!

My Dad is a patient teacher and was very thorough in his training. He would set up his saw horses in a parking lot in the most narrow space you could think of and teach me how to back the truck and suburban into them. He would set up tight turns with orange cones and then set a tall spray can of Tire Repair on the dashboard- the goal: to take those turns as quickly and carefully as possible without knocking over the can! Oh that stupid can! But I learned! We started that process when I was 14, and the day I got my driver's license at age 16, I was more skilled than most of my fellow new drivers.

On top of that, we moved to Texas when I was 16 and I had to help with the driving! It was terrifying when we reached Houston! 14 lanes stood between one side of the highway and the other! Suddenly there were these new highways on the sides of the highway called "feeder roads"...I don't know how I made it!

Once we were settled, I was told that my driver's license, which I had worked hard to earn, would expire in Texas in less than three months and I would have to take the course all over again!!! Truthfully, it's a good thing I had to practice, but I was highly miffed. No one else I knew had to take their driver's ed. twice.

Now, years later, I have had the pleasure of driving all over Houston and consider myself well acquainted with all of the major highways in the area. My daily commute is about 33 miles ONE way, so my driving time has been quite stiff the last year.

Yesterday morning, as I left my first highway to hit the second of three, I suddenly found myself in a very uncomfortable spot. A semi truck was on my right and wanted over, as I scanned behind me and checked to see if I could get into the next lane, behold! Free and open highway! Moving over one space I suddenly found a huge tow truck on my left...coming over into the lane I had just occupied! The semi had immediately taken possession of the lane I had just exited and there was no where to go! Suddenly the tow truck decided to just take up half of my lane and drive for a second and it was very tight on the edge of that lane eyeing him and the semi directly next to me.

All of it was happening so fast I didn't think to slow down or honk my horn. I had that wheel in a death grip and watched with wide eyes as the tow truck suddenly sped up and pulled right across my front bumper in front of me.

Then I remembered I had a horn and honked...but my hand was shaking so badly that I quickly gripped the wheel again. I swear something or someONE was invisibly there holding that truck in place when it tried to crush me into the semi. I have never seen anyone drive that way (in the middle of two lanes) for that many seconds when changing lanes...especially when they are in such a hurry and have come across one already at lightening speed!

I was very serious during the next two tolls on the highway as I contemplated what had happened.

You know, no matter what, I am ready to die...but I don't want to yet. I believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, that He lived, was cruxcified, buried and rose again on the third day paying for my sins. I know that the instant I die I'll be with Him! However, He apparently still has work for me to do since I am alive today. I don't know what it is, but it's my job to live for Him!

I think the tow truck suddenly realized that I was there as soon as he got in front of me. Instead of continuing at his quick speed he remained in front of me going almost below the speed limit for a long time. He finally went so slow that I passed him and continued on to work. I hope that he will be more careful in the future. And I am so grateful to be alive today!

I found a verse that spoke to me this morning in Isaiah that I want to share with you:
Isaiah 65:24 "It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear." This is the Lord speaking to His people!