Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving Prayers

Well, here it is the day after Thanksgiving and I am sitting at the computer—at work! Dan and Bob are both out of town so I became designated “check hander outer.” It’s really ok because I don’t go shopping on this day. I tried it once and got some good deals, but it wasn’t worth the insanity and frustration so I have made it a personal policy to avoid the maddening holiday rush on Black Friday.

I’m not sure why I said I’d be her from 8 until 12. No one will be up that early. I’m going to use my time to write some devotionals and study guides for the church web page. I’ve got the music going and an extra sweater on (our building is an OLD school building and is notoriously hard to heat) so I’m good to go.

Thanksgiving dinner was nice. Nelson and I went to his parents’ house in Toledo. Mom always has a nice dinner. Nelson’s paternal grandmother was there. She is 91 and suffers with Alzheimer’s. She was having a good day. Beth and Asher had dinner and spent the day with Ron’s family. Ann was at home with a very sick little Penelope.

Ann probably wouldn’t have joined us, even if Pnel wasn’t sick. Last week she determined that she has had enough, tried enough, and was now done with that marriage. The news rocked Travis momentarily and he said and did some things indicating his desire to keep the marriage together, but I think in Ann’s mind and heart it was clearly too little too late. She decided that she probably should have trusted her gut more and not gotten married at all. The trouble was she began to act irrationally and impulsively and it has taken a considerable amount of coaching from her father and I to get her to slow down and think about her actions. My last advice was that she needs a better plan to get out of this marriage than she did to get into it. That seemed to make sense. It’s just so terribly hard to watch this and feel so helpless to do anything for them.

I had to chuckle at myself on the way to and from Nelson’s folks yesterday. You may recall that I am the ultimate weather weenie and I loathe traveling in inclement weather—especially snow! So I prayed, “Please God, don’t let it snow on Thanksgiving.” I was quite elated, as I monitored the weather, that it appeared God had taken pity on my lack of driving courage and the weather forecast was calling for partly sunny and a high in the 50’s!! Yea God!

Well, that’s what I thought as I was driving out of Atown. As we got about 12 miles north of town, we could see a dark ominous cloud forming just at the tree line. Fog. Didn’t think much of it at first, I mean it was after 11 in the morning, surely it will be burning away. Wrong. We were in pea soup so thick that you couldn’t see two telephone poles ahead. And talk about idiot drivers. No, they didn’t need their lights on to see, but sure would have been nice to have them on so that I could see them! Sheesh. We drove in the fog for the next hour. Then the sun refused to shine the rest of the day.

Nelson and I stopped over at his grandmother’s house on our way out of town. The house has sold and the family is having an estate sale to clear out the remainder of Grandma’s things. I got an old graniteware turkey roaster (cream and green, my favorite) and a footstool. While I was sitting in the car, waiting for Nelson to finish his good-byes, I could see the fog creeping into the neighborhood. By the time we got to the expressway we were socked in. Nelson felt it would be easier to go home by way of the turnpike so I complied. It was so thick I could barely see two car lengths in front of me. He determined I should be okay to drive since it’s a straight shot and he can see in fog. Unique logic, I think. I did some quick internal weighing out of my situation. I was petrified and tense beyond description, but couldn’t imagine how bad I would be if I wasn’t driving—it’s all about control. I set the cruise on 65mph, pointed the car in the right direction, and started praying again. That’s when I had to chuckle.

“I guess I wasn’t specific enough in my prayers, God. Thank you so much for not having it snow and impede my journey home. I know this fog isn’t going away so help me get through this now. I don’t have any conditions to throw on this. I’m not going to make any desperate promises. I just need your help, your assurance, and no deer running tonight.”

Just one more lesson on how to pray specifically, to ask for exactly what I need, what I want.

I was in horribly thick fog with cars flying by me on the turnpike. When we left the turnpike to turn south and head towards home, the cars were much more cautious—slower than even I wanted to go. About five miles from home the fog lifted and I rolled into town quite happy to see my little burg on the horizon.

I slept well—like a log. And surprisingly when I woke up this morning there was no tension or soreness from the tense ride home. Be sure, I thanked God for that this morning!

Have a great shopping day.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Beauty for Ashes

A person with gray hair and a gray sweatshirt and gray pants just came into my office and emptied my trash. This person barely looked up, only asked quickly if I had a trash can to empty. This person moved stiffly. I wanted to swoop in and help them, but there was no invitation for help. There was no expression on their face. It was such an odd exchange.

Last Monday (11/13) our ministry sponsored a community forum re-introducing the community to the Citizen Circle. ( We had a panel presenting information. On our panel was an ex-offender who has a private business operating in 5 counties. He hires many ex-offenders and is quite successful. There was an educator who gave some wonderful statistics supporting the value and importance of education while incarcerated. The third guest was a gentleman who earned his BA while in prison and is now employed as a case manager with an agency in Columbus that does similar things that we do—only his agency is huge! He was imprisoned for 25 years. The final guest was our county’s Common Pleas Judge. They made wonderful presentations. It was very informative for the 25-30 community people who were present.

When they were done, Dan (our director who moderated) turned to me and asked me (in front of the whole crowd) to tell my story. Deep breath. There was a friend from church sitting next to me. He didn’t know many details of my story or my crime. He would now. I started by talking about my mean old PO who demanded that I get a job—she was sitting two rows back. When it was all over, I was amazed with how much I said, including specifically identifying that my crime was a sexual offense. At the end my friend hugged me and told me that he was so glad I was his friend. It just blessed my heart.

A couple days ago Dan brought a guy he was working with into my office. He introduced me and told the guy that he would let me tell him my story later (thanks Dan). Then he quickly asked me to answer a question—ok. “Do you think someone could be content making $5.50 an hour?” I searched Dan’s face, wishing desperately that I had taken that mind reading course. What was he going for? “Yes.” I answered quickly, and honestly. Dan grinned quite largely, thanked me, and whisked the guy out of office as quickly as he had swooped in. The guy was adamant that no one could be content making that kind of money. Guess he just needed to meet me.

We have a new web page—quite spiffy and completely under construction yet. There’s a picture of me there ( We have a newsletter coming out next month and Dan asked me to write an article for it. I’ll close with what I wrote:

In 2004 I moved to Ashland and was immediately faced with the daunting task of finding a job. I came with a felony conviction and found that the employers I contacted were not interested in giving me a chance. That’s when I was put in touch with the Transformation Network.

Dan and Bob seemed extremely apologetic as they offered me a job that would pay only $5.50 an hour. It seemed a low wage to offer someone with three masters degrees like I have. I was quick to accept the wage and the job (sight unseen) because $5.50 beat $0 all to pieces!

I started with the packaging program, seeing quickly areas of organizational need that would increase not only our production, but also the quality of our work. The management at the Reineke company saw my efforts and offered me a position with their company supervising the T-Net work program. I began work for them in March 2005. I worked in that position and in the factory until October 2006.

In August of this year, Dan came and presented me with an opportunity to work full-time with this ministry. I would still supervise the packaging program but also work the re-entry contracts that we have in Huron and Erie counties.

After I committed my crime and began the arduous task of rebuilding my life, I seriously doubted how God would ever be able to use me again. Dear friends would try to encourage me by telling me that they believed that God wasn’t through with me yet. I politely nodded, but held tight to my doubts.

The physical labor of the packaging program and in the factory gave much opportunity to be in prayer—I so desperately felt out of my element. It was in the attitude of prayer that God began to reshape my attitude and rebuild my trust. When Dan did come and offer this position to me, I was taken completely by surprise. It was that moment when I completely released the doubts and began to fully experience the truth Jesus preached as a young man in the synagogue:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has appointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to announce that the captives will be released and prisoners will be freed…To all who mourn in Israel, he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. (Isaiah 61:1-3, NLT)”

Beauty for ashes…that’s what this has seemed like for me. To again be associated with a ministry focused restoring people was more than I had hoped for but it was always the desire of my heart. Our faithful God made that happen and for that I can’t help but be abundantly thankful! The even more exciting thing I’ve realized is that as good as this is—He still more in store for me. And I believe He does for you, too!

There’s more going on in life…I’ll write about children, grandchildren, new teeth, and impending divorces very soon.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Electricity and Turtles

Electricity is an amazing thing.

The other day the cordless phone died. We discovered that the extension cord that that the base was plugged into which went behind a chair (out of sight…) had come unplugged. Two days later we realized that the computer had been connected to that same extension cord. So the good news is that there was and is nothing wrong with the laptop that being connected to the source of electricity wouldn’t cure. Yay!

Nelson keeps feeding us so wonderfully! I keep saying, “I love being on a diet.” And he keeps reminding me that we’re not on a diet. We’re eating healthy and smart. Whatever it is—I’m loving it!

Our conversation started out this way again this morning, and sort of meandered around as we discussed the many dietary and physical changes we’ve made in the last few months. For me, this is the longest period of time that I’ve ever worked on losing weight. I started January 1st this year and have stayed with it all year. As of this morning I’ve lost 46lbs. My goal was 50lbs for this year. I think I’m going to make it.

I came away from our conversation with a deeper clarity on the book I may be needing to write. Nelson made a comment that much of the “failure” that people experience when it comes to losing weight is tied up in their seeking of an instant solution. I’ve often said I didn’t gain all this weight overnight, I’m not going to lose it overnight either. But we are such an instant and immediate people.

Last week, I was thinking about this as I led prayer in our Sunday School class. Our pastor had quintuple by-pass surgery about six weeks ago. He’s pushing himself in many ways and getting frustrated that his stamina isn’t where he wants it to be. This caused me to start thinking about how much we loathe slowing down—even if it’s good and necessary for our healing.

Then today I was in the reading room perusing my Woman’s Day magazine when I came across an article entitled, “The Joy of Patience.” Our impatience can be totally detrimental to our health—to the point that it can cause us to die early.

In one of the classes I taught this week I was teaching the group how to set SMART goals. One of the articles I read encouraged the person who was thinking about setting goals to make some of the goals or encouragements towards those goals to be visual. I used to do this when I was on a weight loss crusade: I would put the picture of a dress that I wanted up on the fridge as a motivator. These days my visual reminder isn’t a dress—it’s quite different. I wear a ring on my left hand middle finger. It has three turtles on it. I wear it to remind me to slow down.

There’s some more thinking going on, but I think I’ll just get started with this.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

REALLY quick

Monday: worked at factory. We were way under the gun to get the balance of a HUGE order out on time. Worked past the point of exhaustion--barely fell into bed. Thank God for Aleve.

Tuesday: taught. It felt so good and was SOOOOOO much fun. The component of the training that I was assigned was to help the group start thinking of possibilities and valuing their unique gifts and contributions. To say the least I was stoked--and they really seemed to engage.

Today: teaching again. My component is on goal setting. This is something I've gotten better with. The guy before me will teach them how to write a mission statement and follow by helping them set their goals based upon the foundation of their dreams and mission. Should be an energy filled afternoon!

Nelson went to the auction of the second house last night. This one was quite cool. I liked it better than the last and really liked that it had an attached apt that Beth and Asher could have lived in. Nelson bid up to 77k. It went for 78k. Must be something better out there. No more auctions for a while so we can take more time to look.

Nelson has an apt with the BWC guy today. This is the job related part of the process now. Since his former employer signed off, he's now able to start looking for a different job. We need to get him a super-duper resume. Won't be hard.

I'm writing this at work because the laptop died the other night. Some problem in the power connector. Nelson ordered a new cord and adapter, but it just wouldn't keep the charge. Now the only computer in the house is the daughter's and we can only access it when she's at work. I just don't think she'd appreciate me going into her room at 4:30am when I typically get online...

Well, I'm out the door. Enjoy the absence of political ads and pray for the new folks in office!

Friday, November 03, 2006


In my closet!!!

I just love doing that. I was thinking about the holidays coming up and I realized that I didn't have a dress up dress. So I went to my closet to see what might be hiding. What I found made three shades of giddy and had me doing the happy dance!!!

First, I found a red dress that I bought back for Annie's wedding. Problem was--it was too small when it came time for the wedding. But it fits now and will be perfect for the Christmas banquet. Yay!!! Then I got brave and tried on my 100% rough silk dress (bought way back when we lived in Kansas City and I paid $150 for it)--and it fit!!!! I was ecstatic! Then I remembered I had bought a denim dress, long sleeve with pin-tucks down the front, and a suede collar and cuffs. It's a size 14--and it fits AND I'm wearing it to work today. I'm just enjoying this!!!

And surprise, surpise: I LOVE being on a diet! Not just for the "new" clothes. Nelson made Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins from the low carb cookbook I bought for Sweetest Day. Oh my gosh!!!!!!! He made them in the mini-muffin pan and we used fat free cream cheese with them. I ate four which was 208 cal, 16g fat, 10g protein, and 12 carbs (with fat free cream cheese: 223cal, 16g fat, 12g protein, and 13.5 carbs). They're made with almond flour. Nels even made them healthier by adding ground flax seed. I love muffins from Perkins' bake shop: these were better than anything I ever got there. I'll post the recipe later.

The only sad note to my day was that someone from work is going through a rough time. Not one of my workers, but one of the people from R Company. I've mentioned her before, and I probably haven't been too kind. She found my blog and has appeared to take great delight in spreading my business in a malicious manner. I haven't handled that as tactfully as I probably could or should have. It's weird. I don't mind that she reads, but I never got why she felt this need to dish the dirt.

Anyway, I heard that her nephew died suddenly and it was quite a blow to the family. I'm sad on two fronts by this. Loss of young people is a tragedy and I relate to the grief and pain. But the other piece of this loss is that her anger and disdain for me (I guess because of my crime) has put up such a barrier that I don't know that I could reach over, around or through it to express my condolences. That makes me sad. Maybe she'll read this and she'll find out that my heart aches for her and I'm praying for her and for her family. That much, no matter what, I can and will do!

So, now I'm off to a seminar. Oh, I forgot to write about that. The local seminary (where I got 2 of my 3 degrees) has a Leadership Center and they were sponsoring a seminar on Faith and Business. Our agency was invited. Dan accepted for us. So, yesterday I basked in a learning environment and was challenged in my thinking--it was great!! Today, there are two workshops within walking distance from my house and I'll be done with them by 2:00 so I can still get some stuff done in the office.

Mmmmm, Nelson just told me what I'm having for lunch: a salmon salad with all the fixings. Did I mention I love being on a diet? TTFN

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Chili Today

Nelson's Hot Healthy Chili



It's just the best! Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Ride the Wave

Okay, so I'm in Sandtown, away from home, and Nelson called to ask if I'd let the office know that a fax would be coming in for me. Oh? Nelson called the first mortgage guy he was working with and ask him to just put the loan in my name. And it went through. Surprise! So Nelson went to the auction.

There was only one other couple bidding. Nelson opeded the bid at 50k. They went back and forth until Nelson bid 60k. The trustees of the property wanted 82,500. Nelson countered. They countered. Nelson made a final offer of 72k (our limit) and they came back with 76,500 and we would have to fix the problem with the upstairs toilet. No thank you. So we don't own a house, but we're going to look at another one on Friday that's being auctioned on Monday. And if that doesn't work we're going to slow down and look for a better deal. Nelson really likes the realtor that he's working with.

So maybe sooner than later.

And Now...

We aren't going to bid on the house. Nelson's boss signed off on Nelson and so technically, he's unemployed. The good side to this is that he can look for other work. The down side, especially where the house is concerned, is that he's unemployed. We already lost one house in the bankruptcy (2002) and I don't want to go there again.

Speaking of the bankruptcy...what we found out on that is that the mortgage company signed off on the house January 2004 and the house didn't sell at sheriffs auction until January 2005. Most mortgage companies won't touch you until 36 months after the sale. Here, we had been counting time from the bankruptcy. Little things you don't get told. Sigh. Nelson did find a company that would work with us, but the payment would have been way more than we could have afforded. Guess I'll just go buy some paint.

I was so sleepy last night after work. I was falling asleep in my chair at 7:30pm. Beth was in Toledo, with Asher and Ron, visiting Nelson's sister. So with a little encouragement from Nelson, I went to 7:30! And I slept until 5:30 this morning. I just don't do that. Guess I must have needed it.

Well, I'm off to Sandtown to meet with clients this morning and then at Nortown in the afternoon. I combined Wednesday and Friday's office times today since this Thursday and Friday I'll be at a Leadership Conference at the seminary. It looks good. I'm kinda excited to get into a learning setting again.

Looks like it's time to head north. Have a wonderful day and stay warm!!