The View From My Window

The world as seen from my window and through my eyes

The good Samaritan I met today October 31, 2007

Filed under: My View on People — auntlelo @ 10:20 pm

As I sat at dinner this evening with good friends, I felt my cell phone vibrating in my purse next to my feet. While normally I would have waited until after dinner and returned a call, I decided to see who it was. I was my husband, at home in Missouri, telling me that he’d just received a call from a man named Ken Skupien here in Chicago and that he’d found my wallet.

Found my wallet? I just had my wallet. Why, I’d had it when I’d paid the cab driver before coming into the restaurant. I didn’t even realize it was missing! My husband went on to say that the man told him the cash and credit cards were all still there, but, that there was no drivers license. (I still had that loose in my purse because I’d used it when I checked in at the airport.) He’d found my voter registration card and had tracked down my phone number at home from that.

I called the cell phone number he’d left with my husband and thanked him for tracking me down. I asked if there was somewhere I could meet him to pick it up. He asked where I was and said he was already at home, but, he would bring it to me at the restaurant.

When he arrived, he turned out to be a young man about the age of my older children. Very, very sweet. I wanted to pay him for his time and trouble and he refused to take any money. Instead, he gave me a big hug, said “welcome to Chicago” waved and left.

Wow, what a wonderful human being and what a wonderful story that demonstrates how good and kind a lot of people are. My job for the rest of my stay? Passing on the kindness that I was just shown to someone else who needs it.

To Mr. Ken Skupien, my heartfelt thanks and God bless.

 

When I’m frustrated, I write October 25, 2007

Filed under: My View on Events,My View on People — auntlelo @ 7:25 am

I’m to the point in my life where certain meetings just frustrate me. Last night was such a meeting.

I attend a small rural church. In my childhood, there were many children, many teens, many adult hands to share and distribute the labor. Things have changed. While my parents’ generation still represents the majority of the attendees of the church, many of those people are now elderly and no longer help with the labor. They no longer teach, attend meetings, help with church programs. There are a small number of hands in my age group (let’s call this 35-55) and very few children and teens.

Last night, we had a meeting to discuss Sunday School. After all, Sunday School is the life blood of any church. We made a plea for attendance, my nominating committee partner and I made a bunch of homemade pie and waited for those who might help us shore up the program and contribute new ideas to arrive. Acute disappointment. It was the same small group who does everything in our church. Frustration number one.

By the end of a two hour meeting we hadn’t accomplished much other than to talk about the same old things we always talk about. (Emphasis on TALK ABOUT). It was my personal hope at the beginning of the meeting to be able to help make a case for the youth group. They really need a devoted space that is large enough to work with. By the end of the meeting, we had accomplished the following:

  • a larger room for the senior adult class

What we hadn’t accomplished was:

  • figuring out how to get more Sunday School teachers
  • getting substitutes
  • identifying space for our teenagers
  • filling the now empty nursery (which is the largest classroom) with any children at all—it’s currently empty
  • training for current or future teachers (the thought was if you give them the teachers book, that should be enough, they’ll figure it out)

Although we had a great sermon from a visiting pastor last week about getting out of our comfort zone, it seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Everyone thought it was a great sermon and enjoyed the humor in the delivery. I guess they missed the point that the pastor was talking to and about them. Bummer, huh?

So, I continue to be frustrated with my church. Burned out in my role as music director, teacher and deacon, and no relief for any of that in sight. I watch our fledgling teen program teetering on the brink, their leaders (my daughter and her husband) sensing that what they hear is all nice, polite lip service, but, that no one cares enough to really do what needs to be done. They’ll leave in awhile and we’ll be right back to square one. No one else will commit to stay for the long haul. As long as there is a committed handful of 10-12 people doing absolutely everything, the rest of the church will remain happily in their comfort zone.

The only thing left to do this morning is pray that God will help me get past this frustration and to a more positive state of mind. Patience is hard when you’ve already been patient for years. Maybe I need to go read some great stories about Job, Moses, etc., to remind me that I’m not the only one who had to be patient, or got frustrated.

I’m through writing now. On to something more positive. Thanks for listening to me rant.

 

Counting our blessings August 27, 2007

Filed under: My View on People,Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 7:36 am

prestonfamily.jpg

It was appropriate that our pastor would base his final sermon on blessings, both given and received. In fact, most of us were doing that very thing as we reflected on the past few years with the Prestons.

Of course, it would have been easy to have been saddened or disappointed. Change is hard, especially when you like the people who are leaving. But, if put in the right mindset, we could just as easily make this a time of celebration and I hope that’s what we did yesterday as we wished our pastor and his family a fond farewell.

It had fallen to me to make the presentation of our gift, as no one else thought they could get through it. That was okay with me, though. It gave me an opportunity to include a few of the thoughts that others had shared with me throughout the week. And, I got through it—barely. So, let me count those blessings as I should.

1. Our pastor came to us at a rough time in the life of our congregation and God knew we needed them to help us regroup after losing our two previous pastors in ways that were hard. We were, in fact, still trying to deal with grief. However, with the Preston’s came a breath of new life and the energy to pick up and move on. It was exactly the right blessing at the right time.

2. For a church as old as ours, changing anything can be a big deal. However, our pastor led us through many changes while helping us stay true to the name above our door: unity. We bought new pews and choir chairs, added a new sound system, installed a new HVAC system and remodeled our basement fellowship hall. And, we’re all still together. I count that a blessing.

3. We began to organize ourselves in ways that made sense. We added a fellowship committee and a building committee. We started a youth group and reinvented our summer vacation bible school into a sports camp approach. Blessing number 3.

4. Our congregation grew with new families. Those faces were evident among the group gathered yesterday to say farewell. The growth has been welcome in so many ways. We will continue to care for and nurture these new relationships that our pastor helped to initiate.

5. We were filled with music. The choir was blessed to add the pastor and his wife, both accomplished musicians, and we raised a joyful noise these past few years. We also enjoyed the frequent visits of the rest of their family who not only brought special music, but, also helped out with major presentations at Christmas and Easter. I’ll miss that more than they can know.

6. Church should never be boring and it wasn’t. Our pastor brought with him a healthy sense of humor that was appreciated by everyone in the church, young and old. To hear laughter coming from a church during a Sunday worship service certainly provides the kind of witness God intended. That there is much joy in being a Christian.

7. The pastor was a good businessman with both wisdom and the assertiveness to get us moving and keep us motivated. He dealt with many a sticky issue while with us, but, managed it very well. With both wisdom and understanding. Although divisiveness could have easily occurred, he kept folks together and helped us weather each storm.

8. At a time when politics are nasty in the Southern Baptist camp, our pastor led us away from the fray and in a direction that matched who we are and what we believe as a church. He was accepting of our earlier decision to ordain a woman as a deacon and, in fact, helped us to ordain a second woman while serving as our pastor.

9. He loved fellowship and being with his congregation. Although time was not always on his side, he attended as many events as possible. It was increasingly difficult for an already busy man with a family and another job to be available, but, he managed to attend an amazing number of those events while serving as our pastor.

10. He was not only our pastor, but, our very close friend. That’s what I’ll miss most. There aren’t many people in our church my age. They were one of the few couples that my husband and I could really relate to. We both had children in college, both worked at the University, had many things in common and genuinely enjoyed being around each other. He was more than a pastor. He was more like a brother. I picked on him and teased him. I told him more about my thoughts than I’d shared with any other pastor. He tolerated my stupid jokes and helped me keep my Irish temper in check. Wow, I’m gonna miss that.

So, I’ve done my best to turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse. I hope God can appreciate how hard I’ve tried to do that this week. It will be different going back to church next Sunday, but, when I start feeling a little down and melancholy, I’ll take a look around at the reminders of Pastor Preston that will be in the room with me and know that God was good.

 

Surprise guests from Atlanta July 6, 2007

Filed under: My View on People — auntlelo @ 7:56 am

Thursday evening at our house:

We were about half way through a lovely dinner (thick cut bronzed porkchops cooked on the grill with roasted asparagus) when the phone rings. My husband starts making those comments on the phone that throw me into a mild panic.

“How are you? You’re where? Sure, we’d love to see you. Do you remember how to get to the house? No? Let me give you directions!”

About that time I’m waving my arms in his face.

“Who is it? Where are they? When are they coming? How long till they get here? My gosh, the house is a disaster! It’s THURSDAY, for pete’s sake!”

The only day worse than Thursday at our house is Friday. By that time, we’ve accumulated a lot of clutter. You know the kind. There was mail all over the kitchen counter. Wedding paraphernalia scattered about the house. Laundry waiting to be done. The bathroom needed to be cleaned. The vacuum needed to be run. A dust cloth would have been a nice touch. And, we were in the middle of dinner and there were dishes that needed to be done. YIKES!

My husband gets off the phone and says his cousin and his wife from Atlanta were on their way back from Denver, are just outside Columbia and on their way here. They should be at our house in about thirty minutes.

The phone rings again and it’s my mother-in-law asking if we had company. Geesh! Couldn’t someone have given me a clue? They know my house isn’t like the photos in Better Homes and Gardens! By Thursday, it’s a freaking disaster area!

GENERAL QUARTERS! GENERAL QUARTERS! ALL HANDS ON DECK!

Four bodies quickly rose from the table and scattered to opposite parts of the house to try and make it presentable to out of town family who had never seen it. Thirty minutes later, the house was tidied up, a fresh pitcher of iced tea and fresh pot of coffee were made and I was happy that I still had a good amount of a special lemon yogurt cake with  blueberry sauce on hand to offer guests.

The family arrived. We had a nice leisurely visit, a little dessert and a little coffee. We caught up on the news and offered them a bed for the night, but, they opted to continue on to St. Louis so the morning travels wouldn’t be quite as difficult.

It was good to see them. This should be a lesson to me not to let my house get so out of hand by the end of the week. I need a housekeeper!!!!!!

 

Pranks, tricks and other useful ways to spend your time June 14, 2007

Filed under: My View on People — auntlelo @ 6:09 pm

I have a deep, dark secret. I love a good prank or joke. But, my husband loves them even more. Mine are usually pretty minor, like moving someone’s shoes or stringing together all their paper clips in one long string, but, his are usually well conceived and well executed acts of trickery. The end result is a lot of fun and people remember his forever.

Let me tell you about one of his most famous ones:

He used to work with an older guy. They were cleaning out closets one day and came across several items that had been left behind. Later that day, he walked up behind the guy, slapped him on the back and asked how he was doing, passing pleasant conversation. After all, my husband’s a very nice guy! Soon after, the guy left work and went to the nursing home to see his Mom. After spending a great deal of time walking around the nursing home talking to staff and other residents, his sister arrived. Only then did he learn that he’d been walking all over the place with a maxi pad stuck in the middle of his back. It has since become a classic gag that has gone down in family history.

Today, another gag was played and it, too, will probably become a classic. I’ll save that one for another blog entry. They’re too good to share them all at once! Wow, I wish I were that creative!

 

The view from the window of our local noodle establishment June 6, 2007

Filed under: My View on People — auntlelo @ 7:04 pm

My sister and I had lunch today at our local noodle establishment. I had pad thai, she had some sort of whole wheat Tuscan noodle mess. But, that wasn’t the interesting part of the lunch.

I sat facing the window during lunch and it was amazing to me the number of pregnant women that walked by or into the restaurant while we were sitting there. I started making comments about how I hoped there was nothing in the noodles that caused this particular phenomenon, because I counted at least 7 or 8 while we were eating lunch. Then, I began to notice something even more distressing and disturbing.

Other people I looked at bore the same type of profile in the noodle establishment. Men, older women, all had the same protruding tummy that had earlier only been seen in women expecting babies. Yikes! It was something in the noodles after all! All those carbs and fats have created a population of waddling people!

I carefully put down my fork, didn’t finish my noodles and declared it was time to go. My sister wasn’t quite ready to go back to the office grind quite yet, but, we soon took our leave. I carefully avoided catching a glimpse of myself in profile for the rest of the day, fearing I’d remind myself of someone who was about to deliver a bundle of joy.

Sorry noodles, I love ya, but you’ve got to go!

 

The Luxury of Being Antisocial February 12, 2007

Filed under: My View on People,Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 1:16 pm

I’ve always wanted to possess that thing that others have. The thing that makes them completely immune to feeling bad when they do what they want regardless of the feelings or needs of others. I start to do it sometimes, but, my internal conscience usually gets me by the throat and the next thing you know I’ve changed my direction.

Case in point: when you have houseguests, shouldn’t you make a concerted effort to be a part of the conversation and stay up late enough to show you’ve made a decent effort to care that they’re there in your house as your guests? I have this secret pet peeve. Being the Mom in the house, it always seems to be my job to make sure everyone is fed well, comfortable and happy when they’re in my home. I think this is a throwback to growing up with the June Cleaver model. Last time I checked, the deed to the house was in two names, thus, two people should be responsible for the well fed, comfortable and happy guests. Correct? When my house is full of people, I spend most of my time planning menus, cooking or doing dishes because meals are something my guests look forward to. However, I’ve noticed that the rest of my family begin to take on the “guest” persona, too. They leisurely sit around the house, ignoring their regular chores like the taking out of trash or unloading of the dishwasher. They don’t bother to help entertain the guests by offering conversation or other activities while I’m busy . I have become a multitasker extraordinaire when in the kitchen. Yesterday, I found it interesting that while I was in the kitchen fixing dinner, there were two males sitting in the living room watching TV and when the phone rang they both yelled,”Mom, the phone’s ringing!” And the worst thing is when I’ve been up working all day and my loving spouse wakes from his nap in the recliner to announce he’s tired and just goes to bed, leaving me to entertain the guests alone.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone at my house loves to have guests. I love to have guests because they’re usually my children coming home to visit. I think the others that share my house love guests because that means a “mini vacation” from chores or other obligations. Ah, bliss! Reading, watching TV and lots of naps while the family hotel quietly operates around them. My, it must be quite a life! Maybe someday I’ll sit around the living room reading a book or watching TV and wait for someone to call me to breakfast, lunch or dinner. I’ll shovel my food in my mouth and then get up and return to my chair to watch a movie, leaving my other half at the table to visit with the company while they finish their meal. Then, I’ll pretend I don’t notice when the person that prepared the meal has to also go to the kitchen and clean up alone while everyone else is off having fun again. And when the phone rings…

Well, you get the picture.

 

Dealing with difficult people (even when you want to strike back) January 30, 2007

Filed under: My View on People,Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 1:38 pm

Sometimes a person needs to acknowledge that when someone is attacking you, it’s not about you. It’s about them.

That’s pretty hard to do when you’re being criticized and you’re emotional. The natural tendency for most of us is to roll up our sleeves and and start slinging right back. At least, that’s the way it is for me. I don’t come from strong Scottish, Irish and German stock and try to pretend that I don’t have a temper and a willingness to go toe-to-toe when backed into a corner. However, no matter how tempting it is to have those few moments loss of self control, I know I’ll only feel worse afterward because I stooped to the level of the attacker. I’m feeling a little backed into a corner right now and spent a bit of time this morning getting a handle on things so that I don’t give this person an entire precious day of my life that they simply don’t deserve.

I found this great article by Rick Warren and reading it helped me regain my perspective. I’ll share it with you:

Dealing with difficult people
by Rick Warren

When asked what he considered the most valuable skill in employees, John D. Rockefeller once replied, “The ability to get along with people!”

One of the most important skills needed to succeed in ministry is knowing how to handle troublemakers. If you learn how to deal with difficult people early on, then you’ll be able to pour more energy into ministry rather than needless conflicts.

Troublemakers come in all shapes:

– THE SHERMAN TANK – will run over you if you let him.
– THE MEGAPHONE – will talk your ear off.
– THE BUBBLE BUSTER – deflates everyone’s enthusiasm.
– THE VOLCANO – has a temper like Mt. St. Helens.
– THE CRY BABY – is a chronic complainer holds a pity party.
– THE NIT PICKER – is the unpleasable perfectionist.
– THE SPACE CADET – is on a different wavelength.

What should you do with these types?
Jesus had to deal with a lot of difficult people. Here are FOUR methods he modeled through his life:

1. Realize you can’t please everybody (John 5:30). Even God can’t do that! One wants rain while the other sunshine.

2. Refuse to play their game (Matthew 22:18). Learn to say no to unrealistic expectations. Confront them by “telling the truth in love.”

3. NEVER retaliate (Matthew 5:38-39). It only lowers you to their level.

4. Pray for them (Matthew 5:44). It will help both of you. Let God handle them.

Make this Bible verse your goal this week, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18, NIV)

 

My View on “Grit” January 27, 2007

Filed under: My View on People,Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 8:26 pm

I just got home after attending a great ladies’ luncheon sponsored by our church fellowship committee. It was a very nice event and I took my Mom and my aunt along with me. Our pastor’s wife delivered a wonderful address that focused on an important quality we should all admire: grit. The dictionary defines it this way:

Firmness of character; indomitable spirit; pluck: She has a reputation for grit and common sense.

I come from a long line of women with grit. In fact, I told my Mom that I think I got more than grit, I got “growl” too! It takes a lot to be everything to everyone and to do it with all of those other attributes people also seem to expect like grace, beauty, godliness, compassion, intelligence, humility… That’s pretty tough when you think about it. Yes, when I consider the attributes that I truly admire in the women of my family, grit is definitely right up there.

So, what do you think about women with grit? Do you have it, admire it, despise it? Is there an influential woman in your life that you would describe as having grit?

 

My View on Indecisive People January 23, 2007

Filed under: My View on People,Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 1:32 pm

This morning my eyes would reflect that I am royally annoyed. (Last night they were the dreaded bright green color!) I had an experience last night with someone who I have really gone out of my way to help get a new job. When I say really helped, I mean I helped edit their resume, gave them tips on some additional skills they needed to add to their skillset, told them where they could find additional tutorials and training, sent them the job notice, etc. Because I know them so well, I also kept asking them if they were sure they were ready to make a change. The answer was always a big “yes.”

So, last night I called to congratulate them on getting an interview. That’s when the person informed me that they were, in fact, going to cancel their interview because they’d changed their mind and didn’t want to move after all. ARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!

I guess I have very little tolerance for indecisiveness because I, personally, am a very decisive person. Right or wrong, I have no problem making a decision and then living with the consequences. The science that surrounds this indecisive angst is just foreign to me. I don’t agonize over what to wear, what to cook or what to watch on TV. It’s just inconceivable to me that someone would go all the way through a process like applying for a job, accept an interview and only then decide they no longer want to move. REALLY!

Note: I just love typing in all capital letters. It just looks so emphatic! I somehow get the impression that those people who know me are really sensing how loudly I’m yelling when I type in all caps. Now, if I could only manage to figure out how to write descriptively the impression of my arms waving wildly or my foot stomping in frustration.

How do you handle indecisive people. Frustrating or not a big deal?