Thursday, April 30, 2009
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I am still amazed at how Facebook is able to connect people who haven't been in touch in years.
This afternoon, I received an email telling me that someone had "friended" me. I logged into my account, and it was a woman whom I used to carpool/work with when I worked for the federal government...and I hadn't had contact with her in almost three years. Talk about a blast from the past!
This is one thing I find awesome about Facebook. On the one hand, there are probably people out there I'd rather not connect with (e.g. the kids who bullied me in high school), but on the other hand, it's wonderful and refreshing to connect with old friends. I'm so glad she found me if only to catch up with one another's lives.
See? Facebook isn't just for stalkers anymore!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Image by Lori-B. via Flickr
In our Wednesday morning devotional today, our speaker was a pastor who is 80 years old and still bringing the message of Christ to those in need. One of the most impressive parts of his sermon was that he rarely looked at his Bible or notes to refresh his memory.
At 80 years old, I hope that I am still able to work and remain active. I can't imagine not doing something with my time, whether it's a traditional type of work or just something I love enough to make it work (like writing). When I think about this, I remember my grandmother on my mom's side. I loved her with all my heart and miss her every day; she died when I was in high school. At her death, she was 81 years old. She lived a long, rich life, but when I was about 12 years old, she fell and broken her shoulder. Before that event, she was active--walking the mile to the mailbox and back, working in her garden, etc. After she broke her shoulder, though, it was as if she became afraid to do anything else that would harm her evidently fragile body. She didn't want to leave her house, she was terrified of being placed into a nursing home, and she lost a bit of her fighting spirit.
The lesson I took away from my grandmother's last years is this: if you fall once, just like a child, you should get back up again, brush yourself off, and keep going. The second that you let down your guard and become afraid, you will stop living.
God has plans for all of us, and I don't think that you should stop working on that plan out of fear. My Granny's last years could have been so much more productive--and fun for her--if she had only let go of her fear of falling again. Fear is never a fruit of the spirit.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Image by ~jjjohn~ via Flickr
Summer is in the air. I can feel it coming with its oppressive heat and humidity. That sentence alone should tell you that I'm more of a spring/fall kind of gal. The last few days have been unusually hot for April.
I was working in my yard yesterday afternoon, and I was not having fun as I attempted to dig up grass to create a flowerbed. I finally decided--after an hour and a half--that I'd had enough and needed a better tool for digging. Not only that, it was just too darn hot for me to continue in the middle of the day with my fair skin. My mom suggested a shovel, so after my final FPU class yesterday evening, I swung by Wal-Mart and picked up some extra potting soil, a shovel, and another water hose. Fun stuff, huh? Ah, the joys of owning a home.
Now, if anyone has any fantabulous tips for digging up all of the grass that makes up my front yard "landing strip," I would much appreciate it.
Friday, April 24, 2009
When I left my position with the Department of Veterans Affairs, I was not making small potatoes for a 26-year old. In fact, I was doing much better financially speaking than my peers. I promised myself that when Will and I were debt-free, I could quit. And I did. I took a $12,000 pay cut to do it, and it was entirely worth it.
Sometimes, I forget that I'm lucky enough to not have a job I hate. As a matter of fact, I love my job. That's when I take myself back to those days when I was answering the phone calls of angry veterans and shuffling one claims folder from my desk to another. Those were not happy days, and I often liken it to working in a factory on an assembly line. While the mission of VA remains a noble one, the process leaves much to be desired.
And moving from VA to Northwestern University, I was much happier but still not happy with my job. It was well below my capabilities and strengths. When we moved to Nashville, while I worked with some lovely people, the job that I eventually landed completely--shall I say--sucked.
So when Lampo came calling with--quite literally--my dream job, I was not going to give up that opportunity. I jumped on it. And while I'm not making the sort of money that I used to, I never dread going into work, I know there's tons of room for growth, and I really don't have the stress that I used to have. On Sunday evening, I have a smile on my face instead of a piece of lead in my belly. So many people don't get to live that way, but I do!
All of this is to say that I appreciate where I'm at in life and how God has blessed me to bring me here. We're doing just fine without my government job, and Will is even applying for promotions here in Nashville.
Money is nice, but it truly cannot buy happiness.
Last evening's Town Hall for Hope was an in-your-face reminder that I am incredibly blessed to be riding on the bus of the team that put on this wildly successful event last night. Today is a good day to be a Lamponian. I genuinely feel that we were able to give people hope in a country full of media outlets set on projecting the doom and gloom scenarios.
Suffice it to say, Dave Ramsey was on fire last night! Dave always uses some great one-liners, but my favorite of the evening was that you shouldn't "have the spirit of Eeyore." You know who Eeyore is, right? He's the donkey from "Winnie the Pooh" who always thinks things are "baaaaaaaad." If you have the spirit of Eeyore, that's how your life will pan out. Don't be an Eeyore. Make your own life a rousing success. Be a Tigger!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The room becoming known as my writing room looks like this:
I'm looking for suggestions on how I should decorate this room. I have some artwork that will go on my walls, but beyond that, it's a fresh slate. This is going to be a fun project, and I really want it to be a place where I can go to read or write...kind of an escape area where I can be creative without interruption in my own home.
If you have some ideas, please feel free to comment.
P.S. The room is much larger than it looks in the photo.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Image by *iFatma via Flickr
Oh, my this is a busy week, and it's only Tuesday! Town Hall for Hope is keeping us on our toes.
In other news, now that we're a bit more settled in our new house, I'm starting to pick up my writing pen, so to speak, and have been getting some ideas down. The good news is that I'm up to 22,000 words. My goal is to break 25,000 by April 30th. That will put me at 1/4 finished with the book. Yay!
I think I'm addicted to Twitter. Seriously. It's even worse than Facebook. When will the madness end?!
Monday, April 20, 2009
This week is going to be incredibly energizing and busy. Town Hall for Hope happens this Thursday, and Lampo is abuzz with activity and preparations. This morning's staff meeting lasted longer than normal...with good reason. We had a lot to talk about!
If you're not already, keep your ears open for announcements about Dave's media appearances this week, and keep listening to the radio show/TV show for further information. Sign up for an event near you using the Town Hall's website. Talk to your friends, family, and neighbors about the event. Spread the word! This event is all about hope in a time when this country needs it most.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Thanks again, Teresa, for being so kind and encouraging over these last years. Her best piece of advice to me this morning: the only person who can stop you from writing is you. Don't let the publishers, agents, etc. get you down because at the end of the day, you are your own worst critic. I wish we'd had longer to talk about writing, but it was a book fest, after all, and Teresa did have a lot of other people to greet, so I really didn't want to hog her time. But we'll continue to keep in touch and talk that way...so it's okay!
Friday, April 17, 2009
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This is going to be a fabulous weekend. On Saturday, I'm attending the Southern Kentucky Book Fest in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It's only about an hour from Nashville, so it's convenient for me to attend. I haven't been before, but it's held annually, and my alma mater (Western Kentucky University) helps sponsor it each year. The idea is to gather authors from all around the Bluegrass State and get them together for book signings, seminars, and more. Some of the authors are quite well-known to readers.
After the SOKY Book Fest in the morning, it's on to an afternoon at the spa! Will bought me a spa gift certificate for Christmas, and I've never gotten around to using it. I finally made the appointment, and they told me on the phone to expect to spend around three hours there. Woo hoo!
Finally, the rest of the weekend will be spent working on the house and attending Financial Peace University on Sunday afternoon. Church is on Saturday night. It's going to be a busy--but fun--weekend.
Image by Kounelli via Flickr
Two incidents happened this morning that are good reminders that God is always watching out for us even when we don't know it.
1) At about 7:00 this morning, Will's cell phone rang. It was a recorded message from Chase's fraud department notifying us that there was suspicious activity on our account using Will's debit card. A little scary, but no reason to panic just yet. The message played through, he had to pick an option verifying that he did not make these purchases, and then a representative came on the line. Apparently, someone used Will's debit card number to attempt a purchase from a website based in Spain, some other website out of our normal ZIP code, and several other purchases which were declined. Now, the charges that actually made it through were only around $6 and some change. However, it's my understanding that identity thieves will often run through one or two small charges before they move on to the large purchases. Since the other charges were declined, I'm guessing they were for more than what was in our checking account.
Now that I think about it, I think that the thieves chose the wrong account. We're getting ready to close this account, and as a matter of fact, the last check has already been written out for the balance. The representative from Chase stated that the charges pending now would be reversed, and we will not be charged for those transactions. If not for their quick actions, we could have been facing some non-sufficient funds charges when that final check goes through to close the account.
2) As I was on my way to work, I was taking the usual back road I take to get to the main road before hitting the interstate. As I was coming around the bend before my turn, a car came around the turn in the road straddling the middle line. As it got closer, it appeared that it might hit me head-on. At the last second before it would have hit me, the driver swerved, and we were both fine (other than my life flashing before my eyes). It would have been a nasty accident as I was doing about 45 MPH and the other driver was doing at least 50 MPH.
Incident #2 is a reminder that we don't decide when "our time" has come; God does that. And obviously, it wasn't my time to go this morning...thankfully.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I had no idea a house could be so much work. And do you know what is worse than moving? Unpacking!
On the bright side of things, we've been blessed with a lovely home that really only needs some TLC. We've begun to paint our living room, and I am absolutely thrilled with the color so far. It's called Belgian Sweet by Behr. My favorite thing about it? It sets off the fireplace perfectly. (This picture doesn't do it justice.)
Monday, April 13, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
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My confidence is growing when it comes to dealing with companies that make me unhappy.
Last night, we were packing for our move, and I sat down for a few minutes to review our budget. While I was on the computer, I received my monthly email from Sprint telling me that a bill was due. I opened it and expected to see a ~$40 bill. To my utter surprise, it was $219. What?!
I knew immediately what they'd done. They charged me a contract cancellation fee when--according to my records--the contract expired on February 4, 2009. We recently switched Will over to AT&T because that's where I have cell phone service now due to my iPhone. The iPhone is the only reason we switched! (And I held off on switching Will over for months until I was sure the contract had expired.)
By this time, I was pretty agitated. Although it was 11:15 P.M., I picked up the phone and called Sprint anyway. In my mind, the charge was absolutely absurd. I spent half an hour debating my contract expiration with a customer service representative. And I had no proof that I was right because my Sprint account had been shut down after I ported the phone number to AT&T. It came down to my word against his.
Finally, in sheer frustration, I said, "Sir, even if your records are correct and the contract expires on May 29th, we're still only a month out from that. You're going to charge me $150 or $175 in a contract cancellation fee for that? This is ridiculous!"
After some sputtering and illogical explanations, he offered to "half it" with me. In other words, my bill would still be $100+. "No. I want to speak to a supervisor now."
I was transferred to a supervisor who first tried to remove $119 from the bill. "I still don't think that's fair. I've been a customer for five years plus. The only reason I switched from Sprint was because I wanted an iPhone. This could potentially cause me to not do business with Sprint in the future." And then I went silent.
I waited in silence for a couple of minutes while Adam tried to determine what else he could do. Finally, he offered me $169 off. So...I walked away with a bill of $50 even. Now that was a fair bill...even though it took a one-hour phone call to accomplish.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
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I love a good story. I love to
I think that every company should strive for this kind of workplace environment. How much more work could be done if every small business took a few minutes each week to reconnect? The presence of God shines in this place, and it's easy to forget that not every business is like this. It's something to be aware of and remember that not everyone is so lucky.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
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Something I didn't post about--and I'm not sure why--on our closing date was recently brought to mind again. The Friday that we closed (nearly two weeks ago now), after we were finished and ready to go, our realtor told us that the original title company in charge of getting the documents together for closing still had not been notified that Select Portfolio Servicing had switched title companies two days earlier. Incredible. I'm so glad that whole mess is out of my life.
I can understand why homes are selling so slowly these days. A co-worker of mine is in the process of trying to buy a short sale right now. He and his wife placed their offer in January, and Countrywide still hasn't responded. Ridiculous. This is April, for crying out loud! There's an unusual amount of foreclosure and short sale homes on the market right now, and it's reasonable to assume that the paperwork involved is moving more slowly than normal. However, Countrywide (the culprit behind our own housing debacle) is quickly earning a reputation for slow sales of properties. No wonder the housing market is sluggish. With companies like Countrywide holding properties hostage, how are consumers supposed to purchase them?
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Henry Ford said:
Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.
This has become one of my all-time favorite quotes. It's similar to the quote, "When God closes a door, he opens a window." The point is that if one thing doesn't work, you shouldn't give up on something else working--maybe even better. Business is full of failures. Look at Thomas Edison and the light bulb. How many attempts did that take? Without failure, you'll never find out what works. Don't be afraid to fail because it often leads to much greater success.
This is something I'm working on in my life. I've always been an overacheiver who thought that if I didn't do something right the first time, there won't be another opportunity. I'm finding that it isn't always a correct assumption.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Over the weekend, we took our dog Frasier to the emergency vet. At some point Saturday evening, he broke half of his dewclaw off, which started bleeding. We spent about two hours trying to stop the bleeding before deciding that we needed to make an emergency vet visit. If you know anything about pets, an emergency visit to the vet is not cheap. There are special clinics at various locations, and their whole business revolves around weekends, evenings, and holidays. It's great if you need some help in a real emergency but rather pricey.
Will and I wrapped Frasier in a towel and took him 20 minutes away to the veterinary clinic. He wasn't in too much pain, it would seem, but was still bleeding. The bleeding would stop, he'd get upset or move, and the bleeding would start again. It was turning into a vicious cycle.
We arrived at the clinic, and they gave Frasier some morphine before they worked on him. The vet came out, let us know that it was still fully attached, and they could bandage him up and send him on his way. The only caveat was that we needed to bring him in on Monday morning for a follow-up visit to remove the bandages and to ensure that it wasn't infected.
I have to say that I was incredibly amused by Frasier high on morphine. I sat him down in the grass to do his business before we went inside for the night, and he couldn't even stand up! He had a blank stare as if he didn't know who we were. Pretty funny, but he wasn't in pain!
Our grand total for Saturday night was $207. Today's bill: $82 for antibiotics, an antibiotic shot, and pain meds. It was almost $300 to repair a broken nail, but I'm so glad we had the emergency fund in place so that we could take care of our dog. Without it, we would have been entirely stressed out and worried about how we'd pay for it...but we still would have taken him. It just wouldn't have been nearly as easy.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Image via CrunchBase
I'm still not quite sure what the purpose of Twitter is. Someone explained to me once that it's a way to have a conversation with others. But so far, I haven't any of these conversations. I guess my life isn't interesting enough to "tweet" about. But I can see the buzz that it creates, much like Facebook or MySpace or YouTube. It's a social networking tool and quite effective in the marketing world. This is where the Web is headed...the so-called Web 2.0.
The people have much more say in groups than the "public" of a bygone era. This is a good thing, but Web 2.0 can be a fickle mistress. While your company may be the hottest thing on the Internet one day, the next it could be as cold as a dead fish. That's why it's important to create viable, long-lasting marketing efforts.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
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For the third time in a couple of days, I've been reminded of Chicago...my former home. I miss it. A lot. And while I know that Nashville is where I'm supposed to be, that doesn't mean I can't pine for the city of broad shoulders, right? It was home for two years, and every time I see it on TV, my heart does a little wistful leap. Last night, I was watching HGTV, and they were featuring a couple buying their first home in Uptown. It's a neighborhood I'm pretty familiar with because the neighborhood we lived in--Andersonville--borders Uptown.
While I was watching the show ("House Hunters"), I saw some familiar sights: the Uptown Theatre, Rosehill Cemetery, the dog beach at Montrose Avenue Beach, the Lakeshore Path. It actually made me a bit homesick. I hope that someday I won't feel that way. But in the meantime, I guess seeing it from afar will have to suffice.
I have to brag on my hubby for a moment.
Yesterday, he came home telling me about this woman at work who is feeling pretty hopeless about her finances. This is the same woman we gave a The Total Money Makeover book to a couple of months or so ago. She has something like $30,000 in debt--and she only makes $800/month. Now, anyone would think that's a pretty grim scenario. It's overwhelming to say the least.
Will began to go over her debts with her and talk to her about how she needs to pay them and which ones need to wait. Apparently, the credit card companies have already threatened her with garnishment of her wages. She began to cry because everything looked like an oncoming train at that moment. She was scared and feels alone in this fight. Will calmed her down and explained that she could do this...she just needed to pick up some extra work. By the time the conversation was over, she had hope.
My job here at Lampo is all about hope. But when you don't see the people every day face-to-face, it's easy to forget that there are people who are completely overwhelmed with their own situations. This was a good reminder to me that I am incredibly blessed to have the job that I do, that I have an opportunity to help people every single day. I don't ever want to forget that, and hearing stories like these keeps me going.