Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Tale from Work

My role at work has recently been refashioned. Last Tuesday (1/10), I had finished several projects at work and felt like I had reached a dead-end. I was bored and felt direction-less, so I was in a bad mood that evening when I called my parents to complain and ask for guidance. As usual, my parents gave wise advice, urging me to talk with my supervisor the following morning. I resolved to do just that.

The next morning, I had a recurring meeting at 9 a.m. After the meeting, I was ready to leave my supervisor’s office when he stopped me. “I have some things to discuss with you,” he said. I was intrigued. For the next half hour, he told me all about his vision for events that we could host for users of our software, how he wants to develop a healthy company culture, and how he wants to put more thought and effort into our bi-monthly company lunches. God’s answer to my and my parent’s prayers tumbled out of his mouth as he cast his vision. I suddenly had purpose and a direction, a niche in the company that God had equipped me to fill with my unique personality, experience, and skills.

The first event I threw my energy into was our coming company lunch and training which was to be held in Partners’ spacious conference room next door on January 17. We have simply NO space at Olive Tree; we’re crammed into our space like sardines in a can. In a flash of inspiration, I offered to make the Partners’ staff a lunch of their own as a thank you. The menu for Partners? A triple batch of vegetarian chili, homemade cornbread, and a lemon cream pie.  

But later, as I was buying cans and cans of beans at Fred Meyer, I questioned my offer to make Partners a meal. After all, we’re talking at least twenty people! As Olive Tree’s company lunch approached, I worried about the details of trying to coordinate both meals at the same time. I felt like my coordination of the meal for Olive Tree was a litmus test. In my interview, I professed to be skilled at planning events and organizing. Could I live up to my profession? Through a miracle of God’s grace, both meals came off without a hitch.

I used the website to track what Olive Tree employees were bringing to the potluck lunch. We had six kinds of chili, five salads, four pans of cornbread and bread, and five yummy desserts. The events planning committee, of which I am now the head, helped with set up for Olive Tree’s meal and everything ran like clockwork—there were enough places at the tables for everyone, there was an abundance of food, and the presentations and training by several Olive Tree staff came off without a technological hitch. Several people complimented me on the coordination of the meal and others eagerly discussed what kind of potluck we could do for February’s lunch. I even had helpers for the grunt work of cleaning up and taking the garbage to the dumpster in the cold wind.

After work, I went over to Partners and washed some of my dishes from their meal. There was an abundance of leftover chili, so a number of us enjoyed another warm bowl of chili on Wednesday as the snow swirled outside. I received many compliments about the meal from the Partners’ staff, too.

However, it wasn’t the compliments I was after with the two meals. As I reflect back on Tuesday, it was the community that was created around the meals that was the goal. Meals have the ability to foster in our hearts a sense of belonging to a community. Perhaps this is why one of the Sacraments is a meal. It signifies belonging to the family of faith and belonging to a community means that everyone has a place, that everyone matters. I’m praying that both Olive Tree and Partners’ employees know that they belong to a community of faith as many more meals are enjoyed together in the coming months.

P.S. I’m not sure where the idea originated, but Olive Tree will take on Partners in a Ping Pong Doubles Tournament starting this coming Thursday. It will be fun! Partners has been referring to the Olive Tree team in general as the “Olives.” This should be interesting. :o)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Some Fun Pictures from the Weekend...

My friend Kari has been staying with me since Wednesday because her host family has the stomach flu. On Saturday morning, we decided to make cinnamon roll pancakes. It's a basic pancake dough (which we made with an awesome King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour) with cinnamon swirled (or designed) onto the top while it cooks and doused with a cream cheese frosting on the plate. Incredibly delicious!

I bought snowshoes and poles at REI yesterday with my Christmas money, so my housemate Rachel and I decided to drive up to Mt. Spokane this afternoon to do a snowshoe trek. Turns out we didn't need our snowshoes because the snow was pretty compacted. We had a great time. We hiked all the way up to the top of Mt. Spokane--me for the first time--and it was a gorgeous day, clear and bright. As we hiked back, the sun was setting. It was glorious! Praise God for his creation!

Here's some pictures:

Have a blessed week!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know. It’s been longer than a week. It’s been two and a half weeks, to be precise. Forgive me. :o)

I had a blessed time at home with friends and family. God has blessed me so richly. I had a wonderful time with my immediate family, lots of laughs and good conversations. Here’s a picture of Christmas morning. We’re eating our traditional pull aparts—bread dough, brown sugar, butterscotch pudding mix, butter, cinnamon; how can you go wrong?

Not sure why I thought I should smile in this picture instead of look ravenously hungry like the rest of my family. Perhaps I subconsciously knew that I planned to put the picture on this blog. :o)

I flew back to Spokane early Wednesday morning so that I could be at work by 9 a.m. I made it on time and worked full days on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to make up for being gone. I am so thankful that I was able to take time off and still make up the time. Another gift of God while I’m working part time.
On Saturday, I picked up two friends at the airport who will be spending a month at Tall Timber Ranch for a class called Christian Spirituality with Jerry Sittser. I did this same class exactly three years ago, so we had a lovely time on New Year’s Eve, me remembering my trip and Amy and Christina looking forward to theirs. Maybe I’ll write a post about my time at Tall Timber. You actually live out a semi-monastic routine for the month and have no access to technology. It was a wonderful and challenging experience. Amy, Christina, and I had a progressive dinner that evening. We had delicious, garlicky tomato bruschetta at Christina’s house, cheese fondue and a sparkling strawberry drink at Amy’s, and apple dumplings at my house. It was a lovely way to usher in the New Year.

I have had the chance to host several groups of people in the past week, which I love to do. On Thursday night (12/29), I had four college friends over whose families live in and around the Spokane area. Three of the four are in grad school, so I don’t get to see them very often. For lunch on Sunday, my dear friends Tyler and Lydia Thralls came to my house to top off a quick weekend trip to Spokane from Vancouver, WA. On Monday night, I had Jerry, Mary Jane, Angela, and Jessica Leonardi to my house for dinner and dessert. Angela and Jessica are friends from Whitworth and their parents, Jerry and Mary Jane, live in Hayden, near Coeur d’Alene. I am so blessed to have hosted these friends at my house, and it reminded me how much I love to have people over for meals. I would like to have more people over in 2012.

Speaking of goals for the new year, I would like to write some of my goals down here. You don’t necessarily have to keep me accountable, but it’s just rather nice to have one’s goals written out. I would love to hear what some of your goals are for this new and blessed year. Please share them with me! Here are mine:

1.     Keep to my budget. I am thankful to have a budget (thanks Mom and Jules!) because it gives me boundaries for spending and saving, as well as the freedom to learn generosity and frugality both.*  It will be a new challenge this year, but one to which I’m looking forward.
2.     Walk at least 30 minutes 5-6 days a week. I would also like to do Pilates and strength training on a semi-regular basis, but we’ll see if that happens… :o)
3.     Eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible. Eat local as much as possible.
4.     Establish a rhythm of devotional reading and prayer. I’m not sure what this looks like yet, but I would like to incorporate Scripture, hymns, and liturgy (including prayers) into my devotions.
5.     Read at least two books a month, fiction or nonfiction. Since college, I’ve been reading mostly cookbooks. I need to get back into more rigorous reading. :o)
6.     Keep up with friends and family. Ask questions. Listen well. Pray for them regularly.
7.     Most of all, I want all these things to be bathed in the love and life given to us by Jesus Christ. I want each resolution to stem from a deep-seated desire to honor God with every choice I make, big or small. And I want to know Christ’s mercy when I mess up.  

*Frugality means to be prudent in saving, the lack of wastefulness. I think I have a negative connotation with the word, but it’s actually a positive word. It strikes me as a way to be a good and generous steward.

I want to leave you with a New Year’s hymn from “The One Year Book of Hymns.” May the Lord Jesus Christ bless you and keep you in this New Year. 

Another year of mercies,
Of faithfulness and grace;
Another year of gladness
In the shining of Thy face;
Another year of leaning
Upon Thy loving breast;
Another year of trusting,
Of quiet, happy rest. 

Another year of service,
Of witness for Thy love;
Another year of training
For holier work above.
Another year is dawning:
Dear Father, let it be,
On earth or else in heaven,
Another year for Thee.
-Frances Ridley Havergal