I’ve gotta write about this amazing customer service!

Thank you, Gigi, Jax, Ashleigh, and Nora.  Ladies, you made my Christmas extra special this year. And thank you, Erin, for telling us about this store. Thank you, Chloe, my daughter, for caring about me and being a noticer. Thank you for pushing me to go to this store (because we both know I wasn’t gonna.) You are one of my best friends (even if the world says parents and kids can’t/shouldn’t be friends. When you think about it… the world says a lotta stuff that doesn’t make much sense and makes life more difficult.)

When I receive good customer service I OFTEN write to the company or to an employer praising the great way an employee exceeded expectations. (And when I get crummy service I only occasionally write and am very careful what I say. Maybe the person was having a bad day. Everyone has bad days.)

My husband recently took me shopping at Torrid. Torrid is a women’s clothing store. They have cute jackets, tops, bottoms, shoes, jewelry, undies, bras, and even a few nighties to choose from. AND they have gift cards so you can give this wonderful gift to someone.

I visited there once before and received the same quality of service as this time.

THAT time I was just buying a bra that would fit me (because mine was squeezing me like a corset and I was barely able to breathe.) Thank you, Erin. You are my hero! (I know the correct word is “heroine” but I like the word “hero” better because it sounds cooler.) Because you took my daughter shopping with you for your birthday, she told me about Torrid and now I can breathe again. You made a difference in my life when you shared this amazing treasure of a place with my daughter.

THIS time I tried on about 50 items of clothing.

And they did not hurry me. Not even a little bit!

I just had to write about it.

From the moment I walked in I was greeted by a smiling face and she asked if I was looking for something specific. I was. For many years I haven’t found cute jeans that would fit me. She found a couple pair of jeans and then asked if she could reserve a fitting room for me. (They even wrote my name on the door.)

Every time I’d get a few more hangers over my arm, someone would ask if she could take them to my dressing room. “Yes, please.”

At one time I noticed a woman waiting with an employee near the 4 dressing rooms. 3 were occupied. My room was just holding my clothes in it (I wasn’t ready to try stuff on yet) but they were not letting anyone use my space. They prepared a place just for me! Of course, I offered the room to the customer and she accepted.

I believe every person working spoke to me and nobody rushed me. Since I’ve had kids, many days I have been rushed. That’s not fun. Somewhere in the middle of mommyhood, we realize we better sit down a while because we just really need to. As a mom and wife, I hurry to help my kids, my friends, my kids’ friends, my husband, church, school, and then don’t remember that I haven’t taken time for me to be refreshed.

This shopping visit did just that!

After I was there maybe 10 minutes, tears came to my eyes.

What’s THAT about? OHHH! I’m not being rushed, pulled on, pushed, guilted into, needed, volunteered, or anything but pampered.

PAMPERED! WOW! THIS feels GREAT! I could do this every day! (I won’t do this every day. But I will remember the feeling and take moments for me more often.)

(I LOVE being a mommy and wife. These 2 things are all I ever dreamed about being when I was younger. I absolutely love it. It’s okay to need time to re-energize and regroup. Any job requires that for someone to be able to give more again.)

The employees were all kind to each other. There was no “attitude” when they spoke to each other or to customers. There was a genuine respect in the atmosphere that many companies don’t have between employees.

THAT says A LOT by itself!

I wasn’t in a hurry. They let me keep adding clothes to the room.

When I finished looking through all the beautiful choices and was trying the clothes on, every once in a while one of the girls would ask if I needed a different size or how things were going. (They did this with everyone ~ and it was very kind.) Someone would trade out one size or color for another while I was trying on clothes.

It was like they were there to REALLY HELP me shop!

The girls were professional, fun, silly, friendly, real, polite, and would offer their opinions about an outfit.

I LOVED that!

Even if someone doesn’t like a certain style or color on me, I may still buy it because I like it but I really do appreciate their opinions about whether something looks good on me or not. (I’d always rather hear someone who cares about me or cares how I look tell me in the store if it doesn’t look so flattering than for a hundred people to think, “That looks awful on her,” after I buy it.)

It’s not a reflection of my worth or beauty if a certain style or color does or doesn’t look great. Every body is a different shape and it’s pretty cool that we have so many choices to find the most flattering patterns to fit our body shapes.

At Torrid, (I have to admit this) clothes are a little pricey for every season shopping for me, but they’re good quality and the experience, itself, was WORTH EVERY PENNY to me (and to my husband!)

After deciding on final choices (with the help of my family and 4 sweet employees,) they took the time to find if my mailer coupons or if the in-store promotions were better for me.

It was just a special experience from the beginning and it stayed that way until I went home. I listened to the way they talked with other customers. Every person was treated with respect.

Thank you, ladies, for making this Christmas (and bra shopping a few months ago) a fun and special time. Thank you for NOT rushing me. Thank you for actually caring about my day and for offering your opinions when I tried on clothes. YOU made my Christmas more special this year. I know wherever you work, you will shine and companies would be honored to employ you! Thank you, Gigi, Jax, Ashleigh, and Nora.

[Note: This is not a story about thrift stores but I have to mention how much I LOVE thrift stores. Most of my adult life I have bought my clothes and my family’s clothes (not undies or socks) from thrift stores and garage sales. It’s okay to spend money on clothes sometimes but it’s very fun to be able, when someone compliments my cute shirt, to tell people it was only $2 at a thrift store.

But I’m pretty sure I’ll be visiting Torrid again; maybe for my birthday!

Oh, and I did find some cute jeans, too!]

[Note Too: I find it degrading that some people call some women “plus” size. I believe it would be equally degrading if people called some women “negative” size. It sounds unkind either way to me. Like “You’re too much woman.” or “You’re not enough woman.” There’s a lot I wish would change about this world.

Torrid mostly “sizes” clothes in 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4. And it’s a fun experience just to not see PLUS (or minus) on a sign.

We’re women and we’re ALL beautiful. Period.]

[Note Too Also: You know all those clothes we keep in our closets for 10…20…30… years kinda hoping to wear them again?

I cleaned them out.

THIS actually feels GREAT! (I’ll admit I never could bring myself to do this until now. Not really sure why that took so long. And any small step toward being healthier is better than looking a certain size.)

Try it! Say Merry Christmas to who you are NOW at the beautiful size you are NOW.

It’s actually a LOT of fun!! I never thought it would be. But it’s freeing! And once you really look at who you are and how beautiful you are NOW, no matter what size you are, it’s easier and easier as you go through the closet! I’m so excited for you! It may even turn out to be your favorite Christmas gift to yourself.]

 

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She bought an extra ticket on faith that God would show her who to take to the next conference.

He led her to me.

Her name is Jennifer Drake Johnston.

We met because a mutual friend, Dalana Squires, invited me to join Ten For Him. I’ve just got to tell you about this real quick. Ten women get together 10 times; once a month over a period of 10 months. We each bring $10 each time and we draw a name of someone in the group. This person takes the $100 and gives it as God leads her for that month. Then we meet again and she gives her testimony about how God led her to give. Check out Ten For Him here. http://tenforhim.com/about/ [Note: I do not own or have rights to this video in any way.]  Praise God for Sara Atchley Wierman, the Founder of Ten for Him! God is working in powerful ways with this great ministry.

Jennifer told me she bought an extra ticket in faith a year ago that God would show her the right person to take to a conference. She asked a few people. Then she asked me if I’d like to go with her for the weekend.  I couldn’t have known how great this pink conference would impact my life.

Prayer is powerful.

I almost never go out of town (and I’m really fine with that.) I love being home with my family. I told her I’d pray about it. I remember wondering how my kids and husband would be while I’m gone for a couple days. Would they miss me? Would they notice I was gone? Would they like a break from me? (More about this later.)

I went with her to the Pink Impact conference at a church building. WOW! The energy, smiling faces, lights, beautiful food and Frappuccinos were all wonderful. The speakers spoke God’s message to me in a way I hadn’t heard before. I’ve been raised in church and it’s been a long time since I heard scriptures in a new way.

At lunch she led me to a room that had been prepared just for her church group and I was invited since I was her guest. This was a kids’ worship area that had been transformed into a girlified, fun, ladies’ luncheon room complete with flowers, dim lighting, pretty centerpieces, gum, tissues, perfumes, chocolates, and more.

I couldn’t help but think about how Jesus has gone to prepare a place – just for us – and how amazing that will be! We are ALL invited.

It was such a blessing to hear from these great speakers; Lisa Bevere, Elaine Fisher, Charlotte Gambill, Blynda Lane, Debbie Morris, Tim Ross, and Lindsay Huckins was the Emcee for the weekend.

Thank you ALL for God’s message through you guys! Please DO tell me if I’ve missed anyone because every one of you matters and I thank each of you for the messages you shared!

EVERY speaker brought the Bible scriptures to life in a way I’d never heard them. I’ve been in church for 45 years. I haven’t heard scriptures brought to life in this practical way in many years.

We got to hear a message from Christine Caine (via video.) She founded the A21 Campaign, an anti-human trafficking organization that fights slavery around the globe, doing amazing work rescuing girls who have been trapped in the dark world of sex trafficking. This work is especially dear to my heart for many reasons and I believe God will be using my family to help with this same type of work in Wasilla, Alaska, as God leads us to open and care for a homeless teen place. So knowing the work God is leading us to start, it was absolutely incredible to get to hear from someone God’s already put in place doing this same healing work. I needed to mention this because it reminds me how God is a detail God and this was the first time I’d ever heard about Christine Caine.

We heard from Roma Downey (via video.) We listened to Patricia Heaton (via video) and worshipped with Gateway Worship and Kari Jobe. There were many talented musicians and singers (and if I knew all the names I’d be glad to add them here.) You guys made the weekend even more powerful. Thank you so much!

We got to see performances by Dance Revolution, Founded by Michelle Brogan. (OH how I’d LOVE to dance with them some time! Probably Hip Hop would be my preference!) And we were blessed to listen to Amick and Cassie Byram and their beautifully blended voices.

~If I have left out names, please email me and I’m glad to add them. This was a life-touching, relaxing, lovely weekend and I was honored to get to be a part of it. I know there are hundreds more who invested time, money, sweat, tears, and prayers to put this weekend together. Thank you to ALL of you!~

We were lifted, empowered, prayed over, loved on, and had time to just breathe and enjoy being women.

Jennifer had reserved a room at a nearby hotel for us. Cozy beds, great food, fun conversation, and getting to learn more about each other’s pasts just added to this amazing weekend. There were many other Pink Impact ladies staying in the hotel also.

When we had checked in when we first arrived at the church building we had been given a folder with a fun ice breaker game and the instructions said to get a signature from a woman who matched the description and she was to sign next to it.  There were many hundreds of women so we had to talk and meet new people a lot to get all 50 thousand (not really) questions answered.  There would be prizes for the first several people who turned these papers in.  Fun!

The game said things like:

Find someone who has a dog with a human name. _____

You’ve attended 3 or more Pink Impact conferences. _____

You can wiggle your ears. ____

Find someone who has taken tap or ballet dance lessons. ____

(…and so on…)

On the 2nd morning of the conference one young lady and I were the only two people in the hotel elevator. The elevator conversation was quick and unusual. I broke the silence, “I can wiggle my ears. Can you tap dance?” She replied, “No.” This totally broke the never-speak-in-elevators-to-people-you-don’t-know-because-it’s-awkward rule. (It may remain my favorite elevator conversation ever.)  [I always wondered why I could wiggle my ears.  Question answered.]

At the end of the conference they announced they were giving each woman a gift. This beautiful gift was a white, soft, cozy, thick, terry cloth robe.

A detail I didn’t mention yet: My oldest daughter had been asking for a terry cloth robe for a few months. (I kept not putting this in the budget for whatever reasons so I hadn’t bought her one yet.) We don’t try to make things “even” at our house (i.e. if one child gets a gift, the other child usually does too, but we decide based upon their individual desires and not on money amounts) but I secretly and deeply wished I could get a second robe for my youngest daughter.

THIS is another way that God shows me He is a detail God.

Jennifer and I had each received a Frappuccino the night before and she really enjoyed hers. I still had mine and I didn’t want to waste it and somehow a natural conversation led to me saying I really didn’t care for Frappuccinos that much and she was delighted to take mine! She admitted while the white robe was very beautiful she probably wouldn’t wear it and she gave it to me for my youngest daughter!

Talk about God being in the details! He just IS!

 

God uses people to connect with others every day on purpose and for a purpose. Someone may be praying a prayer over you today and you may not even know it for a year.

Maybe all you need to do today is pray about life, get up, and show up.

~

Thank you, Jennifer Drake Johnston, for leading our Ten For Him group, for praying about me when you didn’t even know me yet, and thank you for the life-changing weekend at a conference I knew nothing about before I went. I pray God’s blessings follow you and that you are blessed many times more for blessing others the way you do! MUCH love in Him, Kerri

Thank you, Jennifer, for inviting me to this:  https://video.search.yahoo.com/video/play;_ylt=A2KIo9gEgyhUX2AA.oT7w8QF;_ylu=X3oDMTB2aXRwZjhkBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQDVjE3NgRncG9zAzM-?p=pink+impact+2014+gateway+church&vid=d655647c910acc9e5d3c8e11d78b04b4&l=1%3A37&turl=http%3A%2F%2Fts4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DVN.608020644744004799%26pid%3D15.1&rurl=http%3A%2F%2Fvimeo.com%2F96726986&tit=%3Cb%3EPink+Impact+2014+%3C%2Fb%3E-+Conference+B+Highlights&c=2&sigr=10p9137pd&sigt=11hlpbrnb&age=0&fr=mcafee&tt=b [Note: I do not own or have rights to this video in any way.]

~

Want to hear about the icing (as if the weekend, itself, wasn’t sweet enough already?)

When I returned home I was the blessed mom and wife of 3 love notes. SWEET!! They DID miss me! (That is, they missed me until it was back to regular life the next week. lol. Oh, well. I have some notes so I can read them again and remember they actually DO like my help as a mom and wife.) They gave me permission to share these great notes. It is easy to look past spelling errors. (I’d much rather have love notes from their hearts than for them not to want to write to me because I correct their grammar and spelling when they give me sweet notes.)  [Too sweet and amazing NOT to mention;  Today I found out the love notes were actually my husband’s idea!  How cool is that?  God is surely alive and prayer is powerful!]

Letter 1 2 Letter 3 2 Letter 2 2Letter 2 b 2 2

God bless you and thank you for reading.

 

 

[Please Note: We don’t try to make things “even” at our house when it comes to gifts (and that’s okay.  We love our girls and they both feel loved by us.)  Every family has different opinions on gift giving. Please do not send me yucky notes about it. This is how OUR family gives gifts. This doesn’t mean if you do things a different way that it’s wrong or right. I’d love to talk about it but I won’t read or respond to hate mail. I’d love to hear how your family chooses the gift giving process and what that looks like at your house.]

 

 

 

Please Stand Up.

Praise God there is not a score card or report card saying how we’re doing spiritually based on our age! (In fact, I’m not sure why life should be a race academically either – but that’s for another day.)

I can’t imagine someone saying these things to others yet sometimes even when we don’t say them we kinda act this way.

 

“You’re 25! How come your faith isn’t up to par yet? Why are you still struggling?   We are going to hold you back a year so you can catch up!”  (That would be quite damaging.)

And anyway, what?! Catch up to what?  Your race is just you.  There is nobody to your right or left, in front or behind.  It’s just you – and God sure is patient.

~

“You’re 60! How come you don’t have more grace for others?!” (There’s no “grace” in that at all…)

I know many girls would ask, “What does that even mean?” SO many have not been taught what this looks like.

Ladies, please stand up and teach our younger girls how to be women of Christ! Please stop the gossip and please start teaching girls how to be beautiful from the inside out! Take a look at what the world is teaching them. They NEED you to speak life and love over them!

~

“You have a grown up man’s body! You need to act more like a ‘man’ now!”

HOW? He hasn’t been taught how to do this.

Please, men, stand up and teach our younger boys how to be gentlemen of God! The world truly needs you! Teach them how to stand tall in a world full of hatred and racism.

And boys (and men) desperately need to learn how to treat a woman in the way God says to treat a woman. Love her. Love her as Christ loves the Church.

~

There is honor in helping each other; not in stomping each other into the ground.

Life is NOT a competition!

Please stop arguing who is “righter” and start caring for each other “right where we are” in faith, grace, honor, life, (and academically.)

 

Busybodies and Nosey Gossipy Rumor Guys

You know who they are. They are the people who never talk to you then you win a lottery and suddenly they are your best friends.

They are the people who talk about you behind your back and then pretend they care about your life when they hear something they think is “worth spreading.”

They are even the women and men at church who look down on you even though they don’t know you but somehow they still feel compelled to speak about you as if they do.

You take bubble gum to school and you are suddenly the center of attention and people say, “Hey, I know him! We’re best friends!” …when they wouldn’t speak to you any other days of your life.

The next time someone says, “Is it true about such n such?”

A great response is, “Why do you ask?”

You do not owe somebody information about your life. It is okay to NOT tell somebody stuff about you when you are uncomfortable.

If people are in it for gossip, it’s hard to hide. When they are genuinely caring about you they have a genuine answer.

Research THIS!

Extensive studies show that a percentage of the time researchers waste money taking a poll about almost important stuff.

MY research didn’t cost money. MY studies have shown that out of 100 people ALL 100 people MATTER.

100 people usually inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. 100 people have internal organs that work pretty much the way they should. Regardless of the color, shape, hair, and the rest of the outside of their bodies 100% of their insides can feel hurt and pain and they have opinions and preferences.

My studies show that people are pretty much the most unique but very much the same.

100 people have the same invitation to accept Jesus as their personal Savior. 100 people can be buried with Him under water in baptism and come out of the water a new person. 100 people get the angels singing and partying just for them each time this choice is made. 100 people are the highest of all God’s creations and were made in His image. 100 people matter.

I didn’t have to spend a billion dollars to research this. Look around you. As a writer I recently met online said:

“The person standing in front of you is not just taking up space, she’s been carefully made in God’s own image. This alone makes her worthy of your attention, and your very best words.”
– Kim Hall http://www.givenbreath.com

100 people out of 100 people are 100% valuable. Period.

In case nobody told YOU today… YOU MATTER.

If you or your family member or friends have bodies that work differently than others due to medical or other reasons YOU MATTER. If you think differently than other people think YOU MATTER. If you feel deeper or even if you feel nothing YOU MATTER.

I studied, researched, and asked God above about YOU. And the results of all my research show that YOU MATTER 100%.

Where can we let off steam?

I’m not crazy. I’m a mom. And a wife and a leader and a servant and a taxi driver and a counselor and a nurse and a peacemaker and a teacher and a volunteer…

Where can we let off steam?

Where can we really say what’s bothering us? Where can we get support from someone and just be heard and not have someone call the authorities on us?
~
Church? Heavens no. Do we dare admit that we sometimes want to self medicate when they ask for prayers at church? (Or that we actually DO self medicate in whatever our favorite way is?) Oh dear. Not me! Right? I have to look like I’m on top of things. I have to look like I’ve got this all under control. My kids look perfect. My husband is presentable. My smile is on just right.

“Why, sure I can teach the 2 year olds and lead the women’s bible study and neighborhood prayer group.” “Of course I can make 300 cupcakes by Saturday and cut out 180 snowflakes this weekend.” “Yes, send me the documents so I can edit them for you by 3 o’clock today.”

Sometimes the answer needs to be “NO.” That is OKAY! When we take on so much and spread our love too thin we’re not that much help in anything we do.

~
School? Oh you must be talking about THAT mom who stood up for her kids when other students have been unkind for months and the teachers make sarcastic comments like, “Oh is she absent AGAIN? She’s sick ALL the time.” That does NOT help. That is NOT being a good teacher. I trust you daily to care for my child. Be someone I can trust who will speak to (and about) my child with respect the same way you want your kids to be treated.

THAT family where they’ve tried to help teach their child, “Ignore.” “Speak up.” “It’s better not to speak.” “Stand up.” “Be invisible.” “Stand out.” “Have courage.” “Jesus is with you.”

Then THAT family goes to the school for help and the school administration assures you, “That does NOT go on at THIS school!”

Either they are blatantly lying or are absolutely blind to the fact that it IS happening at THIS school. Kids are bullying other kids all the time. If my kid is part of the problem let’s talk about that. If not, then help me figure out a solution while she’s in your care.

Absolutely we [parents and school and church] should be teaching our kids HOW to stand up for themselves and that it is okay to fight back. Turning the other cheek does not mean let someone walk all over you and not stand up for yourself. Absolutely DO stand up for yourself and more importantly stand up for people around you who are being bullied.

What to do about it? I’m sure there is NOT just one answer for every case but maybe the first thing to do is just to admit there is a problem. Stop treating moms and dads like we do not know what is going on. Not everyone is going to try to sue the school if school admits they are not perfect.

~
Work? We go to work. We do our job. We take care of other people’s problems, possibly face a little sexual harassment, brush it off, stop by the grocery store to pick up spaghetti sauce for dinner, walk in the door to hear our kids say, “Hey, mom, I need $20 for the field trip by my first class in the morning.” “Here mom. Sign this please. The teacher said I’m going to need tutoring for a month or until I get this grade up or I’m out of sports.” And my sweet husband says, “Did you take the car to get the tires rotated today?” And I pretend NOT to notice him closing down something on the computer and wonder who he’s cheating on me with this time.

~
Home? What if we lose our temper at home? Mom’s gone crazy. She’s out of control. No. No she’s not.

Sometimes we don’t realize our kids ARE old enough to help at home (at just about every age.) Let them do dishes. Remember, if something accidentally gets dropped, to buy less fragile stuff next time. If a dish is more important than our kids learning service, responsibility and to take care of where they live (because they will ALWAYS need to take care of where they live) then maybe we should buy less breakable stuff from now on. Let them fold laundry. So what if it’s not folded the exact way we would fold it? Let them help. And praise them for it. It will build confidence.

Delegate a little of the housework to each person in the house, briefly teach them how to do it, and then LET them do it. Don’t step in. But DO tell them, “Hey I really appreciate your help. I love how you cleaned the sink.” “I’m having a tough time getting the floor clean in here. You have such great eyesight. Would you please clean to the edges when you clean the bathroom?”

~
Romance? Dates? Looking and feeling sexy as a woman? When do we have time for that?! I WANT that. I NEED that.

~
WHERE can we let off steam? Pretty much nowhere. NO WONDER we are under so much stress. I have seriously considered building a place where women can go and for a small fee they can take a baseball bat and smash stuff for 5 minutes.

On top of all that if we raise our voice to our families we feel like the biggest failure of the century.

THAT is a bad day. When I raise my voice to my family. Worst feeling EVER.

AAAUUGGHHHHHHH!!!!!! ENOUGH. I need a moment to breathe. I need a little silence. I need someone to realize that I am a person, too. I am very great at what I do and yes I can handle 217 thousand things at once and (yes, we all pretty much wear the title “super mom” but) just let me catch my breath.

~~> I need Jesus. He can fill me and give me energy and the strength I need to be the mom and wife I need to be. Ask God for energy and thank Him for it. He is THE answer. He doesn’t HAVE the answer. He IS the answer. <~~

~ And then we kiss the kids good night and do it all again tomorrow. ~

I want you to know that I am praying over your life. I am praying over your jobs, your marriage, your search for a husband, your decision to be single, your church, your education, your kids, your life in general, and your heart. Just know that somebody cares and in case nobody told you today… YOU MATTER.