Monday, June 28, 2021

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - 06/28/2021 }

Good morning friends, welcome back to my little corner of the world.  

I hope you had a restful, good weekend with your family.  Mine was busy as usual, the past few weekends I have spent with my brother and his family.  Through the battle my sister in law is facing at the moment, we have pulled together even more as a family and are helping however we can.

Sometimes just coming over and cooking a homemade Portuguese meal, is just what they need.  I love cooking, and it's something that I enjoy doing for others around me, so it's not an issue for me, but for my family, and especially my brother who loves his Portuguese food, it means the world.

So I'm tired, but a good tired.  The kind of tired that reminds you that you spent time doing something good, something for others, something that God is proud of you for doing.

My house however is needing attention, and that is what I'll be doing this week.

Hope you all have a blessed week, as we head into the end of June and beginning of July.  Insane!!!


 
♥♥Weather♥♥
It's been so hot around here, and dry.  Thankfully yesterday we got some much needed rain, and we have a full week of rain ahead, and cooler temperatures.  I'm so thankful for those, and for the rain that we are needing for our garden.

Monday - Thunderstorms, 80
Tuesday - Scattered Thunderstorms, 81
Wednesday - AM Thunderstorms, 87
Thursday - Scattered Thunderstorms, 87
Friday - Scattered Thunderstorms, 82
Saturday - Isolated Thunderstorms, 84
Sunday - Partly cloudy, 85


♥♥How I am feeling this morning♥♥
I am tired, and may lay down later today for a quick nap, but that is all dependent on my housework and getting it all done.


♥♥On the breakfast plate♥♥
Just a cup of coffee with vanilla creamer.  I will have some cheesy bread later.  I just take some bread, sliced or even a roll cut in half, spread butter on, add a slice of cheese and throw it in my air fryer for a few minutes.  So good.


♥♥Looking around the house♥♥
It is dark this morning, as we have cloudy skies.  I have the back patio door open to let in some fresh air (screen closed of course, so Elliott doesn't get out).
My kitchen needs some attention, I have dishes in the sink from last night that I ended up not getting to, because I was at my brothers house all day.
I need to dust and vacuum, so the house needs a bit of picking up.


♥♥On my reading pile♥♥
I am in Mark on the Bible.
Also reading Eva and Eve for a book review.


♥♥On my TV♥♥
I had an hour on Saturday night, to just sit and watch something.  I picked Murder on the Coast, on Netflix, which was a documentary about two young teenage girls who were killed in Malaga, Spain.  Very interesting.
Also been watching The Chosen with my husband.  We watch an episode every night.


♥♥On the menu this week♥♥

Monday - Smothered Chicken, Rice, Salad
Tuesday - Pizza Mac and Cheese, Garlic Bread
Wednesday - Fried Sausage and Potatoes, Seasoned Brussel Sprouts
Thursday - Baked Meatballs and Spaghetti, Salad
Friday - Garlic Cheese Pizza
Saturday - Fish Sticks, Curried Rice
Sunday - Barbecue (Cowboy Burgers, Bratwurst, Macaroni Salad)


♥♥From the camera♥♥
My niece is expecting her second baby.  We did her gender reveal on Saturday, and she is having a baby boy.  She already has a little girl, so we are sooooo excited for her.




♥♥I am thankful for♥♥
Oh goodness, when we actually sit down and think about everything we are thankful for, you will be amazed at the blessings God has been setting before you, some you don't even realize.
In this season of trials, we are so thankful that God has watched over our Marley, and aside from the swelling in his lymph nodes which make him uncomfortable and sometimes hard to walk, he has been absolutely fine.  That is God's hand on him, for sure.


♥♥I am hoping to♥♥
Have a blessed week, with good news all around, and some much needed rest.
Also hoping to get some blog posts up, I have some things that I really want to share with you.


♥♥Something I want to share♥♥
A slow afternoon at Fairyland Cottage....just love this channel.


 
 
♥♥Bible Verse, Devotional, Prayer List♥♥ 
- My SIL is having her port surgery done this morning, a PET Scan tomorrow, and her first chemotherapy session on Friday.  Please keep her in your prayers.
- Marley is off all meds starting today, for his biopsy scheduled on the 8th of July.  Please pray that the swelling goes down a bit so he can be comfortable until the surgery.
- South Africa is going into total lockdown again soon.  My two brothers and one of my SIL, how businesses, and this is really difficult for their families.  Also have a lot of friends back home currently struggling with Covid, as well as many others who have passed from this horrible virus.  Please keep them all in your prayers.


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

{ When is the last time you relaxed? }

 
This may sound like the strangest question, but stop for a moment and really think back to the last time you stopped and relaxed?

You'll probably say "Oh just this morning, I sat down for 5 minutes."

Ok, but did you actually relax?  And I mean relax in the sense of, leaning back, closing your eyes, dropping your shoulders and taking a deep breath.

I have noticed that the past 3 months, through this difficult season we've been in, my neck and shoulders have been so sore.  I kept thinking, I may have tweaked them somehow, but I can't think of anything I did that would cause this tightness and soreness.

Then it struck me.  I sat down, dropped my shoulders and my neck, and really relaxed.  I had no idea that I had been walking around stiff necked, tightened with all the stress I've been under.

The situations we are facing are still here, but I made the decision a few days ago, that I will not allow them to continue influencing my well being, and my joy.  In case you didn't know, joy is not a feeling, it is a choice.  I know, I know, I lived my whole life thinking it was a feeling only to realize it was a choice that I could make every morning.  How liberating when you actually take that step and choose joy.

No, it doesn't take away the problem, and sometimes it doesn't completely take away the worry either, but it does change your attitude and allows you to enjoy your days, instead of living under a constant dark cloud.


I didn't realize just how much stress I was carrying on my shoulders, until I sat down to work on my new meal plan.  I leaned my head back on the couch, closed my eyes and let my arms drop at my side.

It felt like 100 pounds lifted off my chest and shoulders.

In that instant I choice joy.  I said to myself "Right, enough of letting the giants around me pull me down, make me sad, take my joy.  It's up to me."

And so I did, I chose joy.  I got up,  I cleaned, I rearranged, I laughed, I played with Marley, I watched a favorite show and I fixed a yummy meal for my family.  It felt so good to be back to myself.  


We can embrace the goodness in our days, or we can let the worries take us over.  I was choosing to let the darkness guide my every step, and oh my goodness, it was dark.  I feel so much better just being myself, working around the house, cooking and baking and moving through my days with a smile on my face.

Thank you all so much for the sweetest comments you've been leaving.  I know your prayers are working and helping me shift from this dark place I was in.  Really, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I know I haven't been posting much, things are difficult as you know.

Today I went with my sister in law to a chemo class, where they explained her treatments, side effects, what kind of breast cancer she is dealing with and all that stuff.

It was an overload of information, we asked questions, as many as we could think to ask at the time.  Then we walked out, looked at each other and literally said "What the hell?".

See we are at that point right now, where we are still all so confused to what is going on.  We talked in the car about how we never in our minds, thought that we would be here one day, going to a chemo class and facing such a huge battle ahead.

My sister in law and I have known each other, and been friends since 1988.  33 years.  

There's a lot of history, we went through a lot together, grew up, spent weekends as teenagers watching movies and laughing until the sun came up.  Watched each other get married, have children, become adults and make huge moves across countries.

And now this.  The one thing that never crossed our minds.

But we face it with laughter until our sides hurt.  We keep saying, we laugh so we don't cry.  

As we sat and listened to all the side effects that she is possible facing, losing her hair, her eyebrows and her eyelashes, we sat stunned not knowing what to even think.  See for us, we look at each other the same way we did when we were 15 years old.  
 
We don't think that we are 47 and 46, we still feel young.....well, for the most part, honestly our bodies let us know daily that we are no longer teenagers.  
 
But, the way we are going to get through this, is with laughter, and that same young spirit we have always had.  It's going to be tough, but we will get through it as a family.  

So whatever you're facing, whatever seems impossible to you at the moment, just remember to sit down, tilt your head back, close your eyes, drop your arms at your side and release that tension and stress.  Then get up, put a smile on your face, choose joy and face that giant.

Monday, June 21, 2021

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - 06/21/2021 }

Good morning everyone.  I hope you had a good weekend, and my wish for you is that the new week ahead is full of blessings and peace.
 
I am starting this week hopeful for the same thing.
 
Marley's test results from the Tick disease panel, all came back negative, so now we move onto a biopsy of his lymph nodes, in 10 days.  It's not the result we were wishing for, but it's God's plan and we will just keep pushing through with this.
 
My sister in law Hayley, also begins a week of multiple appointments, on her path to starting chemotherapy.  
 
Our family has been put through the ringer since last year, and the pattern seems to continue at the moment.  We will come out stronger on the other side, but it's incredibly difficult to get through each day.  I'm struggling a lot, trying to stay strong for everyone and myself, dealing with a dog that isn't feeling very well, and being there for my SIL, while also making sure that I'm taking care of myself.  It's hard!!!
 
Life is just hard at the moment.  
 
I feel so bad for neglecting my blog, only doing this post or book reviews that need to go up, but not able to come by and visit, to comment, to reply to everyone.  Please know that I read every single comment and I appreciate you all so much.  I'm going to try and reply to the comments, here directly on this post.
 
It's not the same as visiting you all, but at least it's something.  Thank you again for all the prayers, love, support, emails and private message over the past few weeks.  It has meant the world to me and my family.
 
Have a blessed week!!! 
 

♥♥The Weather♥♥ 
First day of summer, but it feels like we're well into it.  The weather here has been incredibly hot, my goodness.     

Monday - Scattered Afternoon Thunderstorms, 82
Tuesday -  Sunny, 85
Wednesday - Mostly sunny, 95
Thursday -  Partly cloudy, 100
Friday - Mostly sunny, 100
Saturday -  Scattered Thunderstorms, 89
Sunday -  Isolated Thunderstorms, 88
 


♥♥How I am feeling this morning♥♥
Really tired, but that's nothing new right?
Marley has been restless at night, the swelling in his lymph nodes are not painful but they bother him a lot.  He also runs low grade fevers, which means some nights he is just not sleeping well.  He had us up at 4:30 am to go potty so we both just got up for the day.
I'm tired, I am struggling with everything going on, but in the end I am blessed no matter what.        


 ♥♥On the breakfast plate♥♥
Just coffee for now.  I am not hungry, will eat something later this morning, though not sure what. 


♥♥On my reading pile♥♥ 
Still reading Luke in the Bible.
Also starting Eva and Eve for a book review.
 

 ♥♥On my tv♥♥
I haven't watched anything for a couple days, just haven't had the time. 


♥♥On the menu this week♥♥ 
Need to work on the new menu, as I go grocery shopping on Friday.
 
Monday - Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches, Homemade Fries
Tuesday - Copycat Hamburger Helper, Salad
Wednesday - Bang Bang Chicken Kabobs, Macaroni and Cheese
Thursday - Taco Pasta, Garlic Bread, Salad
Friday - Copycat Cracker Barrel Sunday Homestyle Chicken, Mash and Corn
Saturday - Grilled Brats and Burgers, Potato Salad
Sunday - Leftovers

 

♥♥From the camera♥♥
I have two recipes that I'll be adding to the food blog.  This one was a winner.  Quick to put together, filling and who doesn't love a good chili dog? 


 
♥♥Looking around the house♥♥
It is cloudy today, so this morning is not as bright or bathed in golden light, as it usually is.  The back patio door is open (screen closed, of course), and Marley is laying right by it, watching the birds and squirrels in the yard.  Elliott is laying close to him, going in and out of sleep.
Curt is getting ready for work, Jasmine is getting ready for work, Nick is asleep, and I have yet to get dressed.
 
I need to give my house a very good clean today.  I've been doing just general pick up and tidy, but when I don't feel well, I find that I need my house spotless.  I don't know why, it's like the only thing I can control at the moment, so I throw myself into it.

♥♥To relax this week, I will♥♥
Honestly, if I have a moment to relax this week, I may just sit, close my eyes and breathe deeply. 


♥♥Something I want to share♥♥ 
I love following Mayo, she has really interesting videos, and I love how she shares her life and finds joy in every little detail.  Check her out on Youtube!
 
Her video today is titled Living without a Refrigerator.


 
 
♥♥Devotional, inspirational, prayer list or Bible verse♥♥
♥♥ SIL Hayley, she has quite a few appointments this week, sonograms, EKG, blood work, and next week a Pet Scan. Please keep her in your prayers. 
♥♥ Marley, that this week is not too rough on him. He has to be off all meds for 10 days until the biopsy, which is so hard to do because the swelling has been going on for 3 months, so he is uncomfortable. 
♥♥ My brother Bruno in South Africa, for his work situation to be resolved. God knows what it is. 
♥♥ We have lost a lot of friends in South Africa, including my old family doctor, and his wife is currently in the ICU. Covid has hit hard over there, and many are suffering. Praying for the covid to end world wide.


Monday, June 14, 2021

{ Happy Homemaker Monday - 06/14/2021 }

Good morning everyone, hope you've had a wonderful weekend.
 
Mine was quite busy, as usual, but it did include lots of family time which is something we were needing.
 
I need to start this post by saying a huge heartfelt thank you, to all of you who left such sweet and kind comments on my last Happy Homemaker Monday.  I love my blog readers, and most of you have been following me for many many years, some even from the beginning.  We have become friends, and knowing I have your support and prayers means the world to me.
 
I'm slowly coming out of this season I'm in, but there is still a lot of work ahead, especially as we were dealt a blow on Friday that left us all reeling.  
 
My sister in law's biopsy results came back, and she has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  Please hold her in your prayers, as she begins this fight, and we as a family help her through this.  I feel in my heart she is going to be just fine, but we do have a long road ahead.
 
Marley is no closer to a diagnosis yet, they did test him for Lyme and a few others, and they all came back negative.  This afternoon he goes in for more blood work to test for deer tick diseases, but we won't know the results to that until middle of the week.
 
There is a lot on our plate at the moment, and all of it has contributed to my anxiety, but I'm fighting it, and putting it in God's hands and allowing Him to take over.  No matter the outcome, no matter what happens in the next few months, I have to remind myself that it is out of my control.  Accepting God's plan is hard to do at times, especially when it involves the pain or possibility of losing a loved one or pet.
 
Anyway, let's get on with this post, just please continue to hold us all in your prayers!  

Happy Homemaker Monday
If you want to save and use the new button, just click here.

The weather::: 
The summer heat has arrived, we've been in the triple digits already the past few days, and I'm just not enjoying it at all.  
 
Monday - Partly cloudy, 95
Tuesday - Sunny, 96
Wednesday - Sunny, 97
Thursday - Sunny, 99
Friday - Sunny, 99
Saturday - Mostly sunny, 96
Sunday - Mostly sunny, 98
 
 
On my reading pile::: 
Starting the next review book called Night Bloomers by Michelle Pearce.
Started Luke in the Bible, and also reading Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place, again.
 


On my TV:::  
Started The Chosen with hubby.  He hasn't watched it and I haven't watched it all, so we started it last night. 


 
On the menu for this week:::
 
Monday -  Chili Dog Casserole with Cheese Fries
Tuesday - Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches
Wednesday - Spaghetti Pie, Garlic Bread, Salad
Thursday - AppleBee's Ribs, Baked Potatoes
Friday - Knock your socks off Burgers
Saturday - Copycat Hamburger Helper, Salad
Sunday - Leftovers


On my to do list::: 
Vet - As I mentioned above, Marley was tested on Friday for Lyme disease, Anaplast, heartwork and ringworm and thankfully it all came back negative.  We have to take him back up at lunch time for them to get another blood test to send to the lab.  She is going to do a full panel for Tick Bite Diseases.  It takes 3 days at least, so we will know at the end of the week if that is what is going on.  
If it is all negative then we move on to a biopsy of the lymph nodes.  
 
Taking Jasmine to work this morning.
Laundry, changing bed linens, giving the house a good clean.

 
What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating::: 
My blanket is sitting in the basket waiting for me to pick it back up, but I have to pull back a row or two and really don't want to deal with that right now.  Will just have to sit there a little longer for now. 


 
Looking around the house::: 
It is cloudy outside again, so the house is still dark.
My house needs a good clean, not just a quick tidy but a deep clean, and I'm hoping to start that this morning. 
 
 
From the camera::: 
Added two more recipes to the food blog, go on over and take a look :)  
 


Something fun to share::: 
Here is a short sweet video for you all.  It is called Escape to the Forest.  Hope you enjoy ♥




On my prayer list::: 
♥♥  Our Marley.  For answers so that we can start treating him for whatever is causing the swelling.  
♥♥  My sister in law Hayley, for this new giant that has been placed in her path. 
♥♥  For my continued peace of mind and well being.   

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

{ The Essence of Nathan Biddle by J. William Lewis - TLC Book Tour }


Publisher
: Greenleaf Book Group Press (June 1, 2021)

 

A subtly wicked, almost Southern Gothic tale of existential angst told by 18-year-old Kit Biddle, an anti-Gumpian southern boy struggling with the complexities of life. The story unfolds against a backdrop of painful chaos: Kit’s revered uncle, Nathaniel Tyler Biddle, Jr., has sacrificed his only son on direct and specific orders, according to Rev. Biddle, from God himself. As Kierkegaard has suggested, the comic and the tragic converge on Kit’s desperate search for meaning in a willy-nilly world of opaque walls and filtered light.

The enigmatic Anna appears with all the attributes of Kit’s yearning and imagination and then, just like that, she disappears like a phantom in a fog, only to be replaced by the enigmatic Sarah who reverses the roles and projects onto Kit all her desires and imaginings. Standing on one leg in the darkness, Death beckons to Kit with a promise of light and comfort but instead leaves him lying in his own blood on hot pavement with neither clarity nor relief. Who is Kit Biddle? He may actually be Nathan Biddle but who in the world is that?

When the fog dissipates—if the clarity he seeks finally appears—does Kit really want the answers he finds?

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

REVIEW:
The story is told from Kit's point of view.  A teenager struggling with adolescence, compounded by a family tragedy and teenage love coming to an end.
 
Set in 1950's Alabama, this book brings to life Southern Charm at it's best.  
 
It is a character driven story, that revolves around Kit's life, dealing with tragedy and loss, a broken heart and the all too known teenage need to figure life out and make sense of everything that is around them.
 
His uncle Reverend Biddle, seems to have lost his mind and committed an atrocious act, using God's orders as his excuse.  While Kit is trying to come to terms with this situation, he receives yet another blow, this time in the form of Anna, the girl he is desperately in love with.  In steps Sarah, who is completely different to Anna and offering HIM what he so wanted from someone else.  
 
In the midst of all the chaos surging in his mind, Kit acts on impulse, steals a vehicle and speeds down the highway, which culminates in a huge accident that leaves him recovering mentally and physically.
 
Kit is thrown into a different kind of circumstances, as he attempts to heal from everything that has brought him pain and suffering.
 
This is a coming of age story that will leave you wanting to know more about Kit and where his life is headed.  I loved the book but ended it feeling like I wanted more, wanted to know what next, where did life take him, what is he going to do in the future?
 
Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Greenleaf Book Group Press, for providing me with a review copy.
 
 

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

{ It is What you Make of It by Justin McRoberts - TLC Book Tour - Excerpt }


Publisher : Thomas Nelson (June 1, 2021)
Paperback : 208 pages
 

Justin McRoberts dares you to move beyond “it is what it is” thinking and become an agent of love and redemption in your household, neighborhood, and workplace.

“It is what it is”—a common phrase you hear and maybe even say yourself. But the truth is that there is not one square inch in the whole domain of our human existence that simply is what it is. Justin McRoberts invites you to embrace a new mindset: it is what you make of it.

With warmth, wisdom, and humor, McRoberts shares key moments from his twenty-plus years as an artist, church planter, pastor, singer-songwriter, author, neighbor, and father, passing on lessons and practices learned about making something good from what you’ve been given rather than simply accepting things as they are.

Thought-provoking but actionable, It Is What You Make of It declares that love doesn’t just win, mercy doesn’t just triumph, and light doesn’t just cast out shadow. Rather, such renewal requires the work of human hands and hearts committed to a vision of a world made right (or at least a little better). When we partner with God in these endeavors, we love the world well and honor the Creator in whose image we are made.

We will not be remembered for who our parents were or where we were born or what our socioeconomic circumstances were. We won’t be remembered for our natural talents and strengths or the opportunities we were given or the challenges we faced. In the end, each of us will be remembered for what we made with what we were given.

Purchase Links

Thomas Nelson | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About Justin McRoberts

Justin McRoberts lives in the Oakland–San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, Amy, and two children. He is the author of four books, including Prayer: 40 Days of Practice and May It Be So: 40 Days with the Lord’s Prayer. Justin’s sixteen albums and EPs have gained him a faithful audience among listeners nationwide since 1999.

Justin leans on his over twenty years in the arts and ministry to mentor and coach artists and pastors in person as well as over video calls. He is also the host of the podcast @ Sea with Justin McRoberts and co-founding pastor of Shelter-Vineyard Church Community in Concord, CA. Justin regularly travels to speak at churches and colleges, as well as leads retreats for ministry staff, college students, and young adults.

Connect with Justin

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Excerpt:

F IVE

 

Everybody Hurts, Everybody Matters

In the fall of 2010, I started the largest and most time- consuming and energy-sucking creative project of my life up to that point (and, God willing, ever). I didn’t know that when I started it. I just thought I’d throw together a few good ideas and have some fun! Then, I’d invite a small team of people to join with me, and the fun would be multiplied to partylike status. Only, this party was three people working way too many hours for nowhere near enough money while I disintegrated into the worst version of myself anyone at the “party” could have imagined.

 

51


 

 

IT IS WHAT YOU MAKE O F IT

 

 

Cue Richard Wagner–oriented party playlist.

The project was a combination of letter writing and essays and music and lyrics and visual art and documentary-style video and stress and passive aggres- sion and regular aggression and also personal reflections on relationships. Thematically, it was a celebration of community and a record of what my friends and family had made out of the circumstances and relationships God had gifted us. Eventually released in 2012 and called The CMYK Project, it turned out alright as a project. Sadly, it cost me a dear friend along the way.

One of the final phases of The CMYK Project involved the printing of a book. Actually, that’s only partially true; it was two books. Actually, that’s only partially true as well; it was really the same book in two formats. Somewhere in the process, we (and by “we” here, I mean “I”) decided on printing two versions of the same book; one version was just a regular-ole book with text on paper. The other was a two-hundred- page, full-color extravaganza featuring artwork and photography and interviews (which I didn’t mention in the description above, just like I didn’t mention it to my team when we were working on it) along with letters and essays. It’s probably also worth noting that we released the music on three separate EPs with three different covers and then selected a few songs from each

 

52


 

 

EvERYBO DY HURTS, EvERYBO DY MATTERS

 

 

of those EPs, rerecorded those songs, and tacked on even more songs to create a fourth musical aspect to the project—a full-length, full-band, studio-recorded album. So what we produced was . . .

a four-CD, twenty-five-song collection, a text-only book,

a full-color book,

three physical art installations by different artists in different cities,

video interviews with each of the visual artists, transcribed, printed versions of each of those inter-

views, and

the gradual, tragic disintegration of every relationship.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know . . . It. Was. A. Lot.

The real fun begins with knowing that I’d never done anything like that before. In fact, I’d never made a book before, which was probably the most straight- forward part of the entire project. To make that portion of the project simpler and easier on us (and by “us” here, I mostly mean “me”), my art director and I sub- mitted the book-printing process to a large, reputable printing company. Having done what we thought was all the heavy lifting (writing, designing, formatting, arguing, walking away, and then returning to the same

 

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IT IS WHAT YOU MAKE O F IT

 

 

argument . . . blah, blah, blah), all that was left was to upload the book files; make the few, small adjustments we’d probably need to make; and then dance victori- ously as the book (along with every other aspect of the project) found its way into the hands, hearts, and minds of readers .

Three days after the first upload, we got a notifi- cation that there were things in need of fixing. Like I said, we expected this, and while the list of correc- tions was quite a bit longer than we’d anticipated, we happily fixed the book and uploaded it again, thrilled to be done with this massively too-big and costly, and also ridiculous to the point of being beyond description, project.

Three days after that, the printer responded a sec- ond time with a list of errors, several of which we were certain we’d fixed. So I called the printer’s customer ser- vice number . . . and I wasn’t kind. Not even a little bit. I was tired, and I felt that being tired somehow excused me from being kind. After feeling like I’d sufficiently communicated my frustration and disap- pointment, I hung up, and we dove into our third round

of edits and fixes.

Then there was a fourth, and then a fifth,

and a sixth,

 

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EvERYBO DY HURTS, EvERYBO DY MATTERS

 

 

and eventually, the same two things started happen- ing every three to four days:

 

1.    We received the same set of twenty-five notifications and necessary changes.

2.     I ended up on the phone with customer service.

 

Over and over and over for weeks and weeks and weeks.

The only things that seemed to change were my level of frustration and the depth of insult I was there- fore prepared to dole out over the phone to the agent I spoke to.

This went on for twelve rounds.

Quick math: twelve rounds times three business days per round (which means we’re not counting weekends) means six-plus weeks, which, divided by seven days per week, factoring relational stress and a dwindling supply of bourbon = YIKES!!!

When that twelfth email came from the printer, I stared at my computer screen blankly until my art director spoke up. “I think I’ll call this time, okay?” said Gary. “I’m not as angry as you are.”

I left to run a few errands while he called the printer. When I got back, Gary told me he’d worked it all out. I wanted to know if “working it all out” meant he’d

 

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IT IS WHAT YOU MAKE O F IT

 

 

murdered anyone. He said no, which was slightly dis- appointing but probably for the best. What he meant by “working it all out” was that he’d asked to speak with a supervisor, just as I had. And just as had happened when I’d called, Gary was told they didn’t have supervisors. But then, instead of losing his cool and insulting the person on the other end of the call (my strategy), Gary calmly described our situation and history in detail and kindly but firmly asked who he should be talking to.

“You need a specialist,” the agent told him.

In eleven previous calls, I’d never even heard the word specialist much less been given the option to speak to one.

Gary said he held the line and was connected to someone we will call, for the purposes of this story, “the Specialist.” Gary described our situation, and the Specialist said she thought it was “really odd.” Gary assured her he was aware of how odd it was and then asked what we needed to do. The Specialist asked Gary to upload the file again.

“With all due respect,” Gary replied, “we’ve uploaded the file a dozen times now.”

“I can see that,” said the Specialist. “This time, I’ll stay on the phone with you and wait for it to hit our system. Then we can look at the file together.”

 

 

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Ten minutes later, Gary and the Specialist were looking at the file together.

“Is your file supposed to be five-by-eight or six-by-nine?”

“It should be six-by-nine.”

The Specialist paused and then asked Gary if she could call him back. Twenty minutes later, she called back and told Gary what was actually going on. It wasn’t that their system had a glitch or that our file was corrupt or even that we were doing something tech- nically wrong.

It was much worse and far weirder than any of that. During one of the early phone calls in the editing process, I’d said something pretty horrible to one of the technicians. In turn, he’d reset the specs on our project from six-by-nine (which was correct) to five-by-eight, so that every time we uploaded the file, it would trigger dozens of warnings and be rejected. The technician had sabotaged our project. That’s a pretty horrible thing to do to someone. But he did it because I’d been horrible

to him.

Now here’s what’s really funny (and by “funny” I mean painfully ironic and related to my social inepti- tude): the full title of the CMYK Project—the book plus three EPs plus full-length LP plus visual art plus video plus other book—was CMYK: The Process of Life

 

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Together and was promoted as “a celebration of life in relationship.” It was chock-full of stories and anecdotes about getting along with and loving other people, par- ticularly where there were differences of opinion and experience. It was a project about my own process of learning to love people the way Jesus loved people.

So . . .

Can you imagine being the tech on the other end of the phone, staring at a chapter about the uncondi- tional love of God while the author of that chapter calls you names? Perhaps you’d think the love and kindness described in those pages weren’t for you. And if I’m honest, I certainly wasn’t offering them to that cus- tomer service agent, because in my mind he wasn’t a person but an instrument. I talked to him the way I talk to the car that won’t start or the software that freezes. His value was entirely predicated on how useful and helpful he was to me.

My encounter with that tech reminds me of one in the Gospel of Mark: the one about a woman whose body was healed when she simply touched the clothes Jesus was wearing. It’s a remarkable story in a lot of ways. First of all, that was quite an ensemble Jesus had on, right? I’ve got a few favorite shirts, but none of them have mystical healing properties. More significantly (and less jokingly), I am captivated by the choice Jesus

 

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made to stop and talk with the woman who touched “the hem of his garment” (Matthew 9:20). Because the way he handled the moment says far less about the clothes he had on or even his power to heal and far more about how important and valuable she was to him.

As the writer of Mark told it, a man named Jairus, whose daughter was dying, went to find Jesus to ask for help. Jesus was up to other things at the time, but he changed course when Jairus asked him to heal his daughter. That part makes sense to me. Jairus led a syn- agogue, which made him a big deal in social, political, and religious circles. Helping Jairus presented a legit- imate opportunity to heighten Jesus’ profile, prove a few folks wrong, and “get the message out,” as it were. But as Jesus was following Jairus back to his home,

the trajectory of the story changed.

 

And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped

 

 

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and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.” (Mark 5:25–29)

 

Jesus then asked about who touched him, which a few of his friends found a bit silly, seeing as though there was a whole mob of people jostling about and bumping into one another. But to Jesus (and this is the part that gets me), this woman wasn’t just another per- son in the crowd. Which is why I absolutely love the way the writer of Luke wrote about this same story. As he retold it, when Jesus asked about who touched him, she tried to stay hidden but eventually conceded that “she could not go unnoticed” (Luke 8:47).

How good is that?

“She could not go unnoticed.”

Jesus stopped, and along with him, the whole crowd that had been following him. I don’t know how long their conversation went on, because none of the writers who captured this moment provided that detail. But apparently it was long enough for Jesus to hear a lot of this woman’s story. She’d been sick and bleeding for twelve years with multiple medical failures along the way. The other thing the story makes clear is that Jesus was invested enough in the conversation that someone else had to interrupt him and let him know Jairus’s daughter had died.

 

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Now, it’s significant that, once Jesus finally did arrive, he assured the people in Jairus’s household that, despite appearances, he had things in hand and could still heal Jairus’s young daughter. That says to me that Jesus had enough confidence in his ability to do the work he’d committed to that he could pause for a moment along the way and turn his full attention to a person he’d met so that “she didn’t go unnoticed.”

That customer service agent wasn’t just another per- son along the way, though I treated him like he was. Since the CMYK Project, I’ve learned that . . .

the customer service agent helping me sort out font problems during manufacturing,

the Apple Genius Bar employee helping restore my lost data,

my web developer,

the barista or bartender serving me while I write, the UPS or FedEx driver delivering proofs,

the neighbor whose dog pops over to play ball while I’m editing,

the dog herself who wants to pay ball . . .

all these people are actually people (except the dog, who is not a person but thinks she is, so we’ll keep her on the list). They are, each of them, beloved ones of God with dreams and hopes and problems and opportunities and relationships and needs and gifts and strengths.

 

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They are the kinds of people worth making great work for. Which also makes them the kinds of people worth stopping great work for, whether or not they’re directly part of that work process or not.

They aren’t stepping-stones on my path to success. They aren’t cogs in the wheel of my productivity. They aren’t part of my “system.”

Even (and especially) if they’re part of my team working to complete a project.

Remember a moment ago when I asked you to imagine being the technician on the other end of the phone, staring at an entry about the unconditional love of God while the author of that page yells at you and calls you names? Well, let’s take that one step further, shall we? Because that’s where the deeper learning les- son was for me.

Imagine being my art director, Gary, who took on that final phone call to put the project back on track after I’d derailed it with my anger. Imagine working for nearly two years on a project ostensibly celebrating the unifying love of God for people while watching your partner and project leader verbally abuse customer ser- vice agents over the phone and then carry that anger around the office every day. Maybe you’d lose respect for that person. Maybe you’d have a hard time trusting them as a leader or a friend. Maybe you might even

 

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decide that was the last time you’d work with that per- son or anyone like them if it meant being treated that way or being party to treating others that way.

You see, what I know now is that how I treat the people I work with . . . nope. Let me fix that:

What I know now is that how I love the people I work with and for and around says ten thousand times more about who I am than any project or job or end result, regardless of its effectiveness, beauty, impact, or market success. I’d rather make garbage work while honoring and maintaining great relationships than cre- ate bestselling work while becoming the kind of person nobody wants to be around.

It was and is the love in Jesus that was and is the source of healing, whether on the street in a crowd or in the back room of a powerful social figure—which is to say, Jesus was the same person wherever he went.

I want to live like that.

I want that kind of love to dictate the way I work. The way I’d addressed the young man at the print-

ing agency had almost nothing to do with his job or position or the fact that I didn’t personally know him; it had everything to do with me and my character. Yes, the professional distance between us made it easier for me to be unkind, but the capacity to dehumanize some- one and use them for my own purposes was in me from

 

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the start. And here is something true: I don’t get to (and shouldn’t want to) make anything out of someone else’s life. That’s not my job. My vision isn’t big enough for your life. That’s God’s job. Only divine hands can make something out of a human life without belittling, stifling, and minimizing that person in the process.

About four years after that first book came out, my third book hit the shelves. It was a book of prayers I’d collected from my own practice, born out of trying to live more intentionally. Among them was the prayer I wrote shortly after the completion of The CMYK Project. It reads,

 

May the work I do

never become more important to me than the people I get to work with or those I’m working for.

 

 

Taken from “It Is What You Make of It” by Justin McRoberts. Copyright 2021 by Justin McRoberts. Used with permission from Thomas Nelson.


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