Living the Dream

Living the Dream

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cowgirl dreams and Real Life

I found a job.  Or maybe I should say a Job found me.   Most of you know that I have been looking for something for a few months.  I never have gotten heartburn ONE time over being unemployeed.  I have been busy from the second I found myself without navigation, until the second the job for me, found me.  Every step of my life is ordained by God.  He's in total control and I am honored to be able to walk this walk in His light. 

So, let me tell you what happened, because it is a GREAT story.  I have been searching for something meaningful to do with the rest of my life.  I was looking in the non-profit sector because, well, the money is so great there.  (you know I'm a sarcastic beast, right?)   And, because I'm tired of just doing a JOB for no great outcome.  Good income and no outcome.  That's what my life had become.   And I didn't want to do that anymore.  So, I've been looking....and looking......and looking..... and praying.....and praying.....and praying......and being very out of character for me....never, once, worrying.  Because, well, my mom and brother were doing enough of that for me.  So I left the worrying up to them, and I became very calm and assured in my search.

I was going through some website ...(it escapes me now)  and I run across a job for a "Job Coach" at the Dale Rogers Training Center. 

As I'm reading the job description, 2 things jump out at me.  One, this seems like something that I could really enjoy, and two.... it's my childhood heroine..... Dale Evans....  and her handsomest of hubs, Roy Rogers. 

Now, I have some great childhood stories of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.  My brother was Roy, I was Dale, and well...... our dog Cleo, was Trigger.    Or, somedays, I was Trigger and my brother lasso'd me, instead of the dog.  Needless to say.... I love Dale Evans.   So when I make the connection of the Training Center and her tie to it.... my curiosity and excitement increase.

But wait, it gets even better.

The whole reason of this center is because unbeknownst to me, (since I was just a lassie, myself) they had a beautiful daughter named Robyn, who had Down Syndrome.  Now back in the day of Roy and Dale, special children were rarely, if ever, kept in the home.  They were immediately institutionalized.  Dale went completely against everything and kept her daughter at home.  She lived 2 years. 

Now I am super intrigued.   I pull the website to read more, and I am blown away.  DRTC employees more than 1000 disabled people ALL OVER THE STATE, and finds them jobs based on their disabilites and helps these precious people have income.  It's overwhelming to me.  They have been around since 1953 and are going strong.   So, I load up my resume, and decide that only a "WALK IN" drop off of my resume will do for this job.

I drive over, and find a huge facility, and cannot figure out for the life of me, which building I should go in.  So I say a little prayer, and with resume in hand, Sunday best on, big smile on my face, walk in TO THE WRONG Building and find myself surrounded with United Way people.  So of course, I am smiling and on instant alert.  A lady across the room watches me, and comes over and asks me if she can help me?  I smile and tell her I'm there to drop my resume off, and hope to talk to someone about the job coaching opportunity.   She glances at my resume  (I have no idea who she is) and asks me what I have done in the past... I give her a 30 second window into my life.  She asks me if I am totally sold on the Job Coach opportunity, or would I be interested in a marketing/sales position??  I tell her that I want them to use me in any capacity I can help them with, and she tells me she will get my resume into the right hands.   Little did I know, it already was there. 

The very next day, Friday, my cell phone rings and it is the HR director and she asks if I am available for an interview the next week .. "Uhm, let me check my busy social calendar....uhm, no" and I'm on for an interview Monday afternoon.  I show up, have my interview, and immediately ADORE the lady interviewing me.  She is open and very honest with me.   "I don't know HOW you managed to land in the Director's path... but you did"..  she goes on to tell me that though this is an "Ambiguous" job title I am interviewing for, it seems that I have most of the things they are looking for.  SWEET.   I leave on the note, that she will check with the director and get back with me.    Sigh.   I've heard that before. 

2 days pass.  Wednesday afternoon I get an email, and my heart sinks.   Emails usually don't have good news.  I've learned that from the Job Search.  SO I open the email, fully expecting the usually  "BLAH BLAH, we're going a different direction" blah blahblah, and to my surprise it says  "We'd like to have a second interview with you on Friday at 9:30".    AWESOMENESS. 

SO I watch the Royal wedding  (more on that on the next blog) and head to the center.  I meet with the HR lady I interviewed with, and the nice lady that I had inadvertantly stumbled on when I was in the wrong building, who is the Executive Director of the ENTIRE center.  We visit, and I am getting more overwhelmed by the second, how every single requirement they need, I have experience in.  And not just minimal experience, but "super duper, I can help you so much", experience in.  20 minutes after reviewing my resume, and her outlining what she thinks the job will look like, I'm hired.  She tells me that it was a "Serendipity moment for her."    "I had already been talking to the HR director about someone like you, and then...There you are."     Of course I have to pass references and drug test, but if I lay off the crack pipe for the next week or so, I should do fine... and I've paid my references well, so that should go okay too.   So, I do believe I have a job.   Seems they have things to sell, and no one with real sales experience among them to take that by the horns and make happen.  Also, something to do with the volunteers and anything else anyone is overburdened with, and can throw my way.   I love to wear several hats.   Except that Lady Gaga hat that Princess Eugenie wore at the wedding, but like I said, more on that next time. 

Could I be where God wants me anymore than this??  I am so humbled, and thrilled, and expectant.  It's truly a God- deal.... and God is good.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm a survivor...

I've been watching SURVIVOR since all the back to Richard Hatch.  In the early seasons, that was an intense goal of mine. .... to get on Survivor. 

I even put time in, around 2003 putting together a video to attempt to get on the show.  Had someone edit it, mailed it in, and missed the deadline by a day.  I think God was telling me I probably didn't need to be on that show.   It was a kinder and gentler show when I attempted to get on.   The most intense thing they did was eat bugs and stuff.   Now it's physical and you have to walk around in your underwear...a lot.  I would NEVER make it.  Never mind running and swimming, I just don't rock underwear the way I used to. 

But this year, something magical has happened for me on this show.   Meet Matt Elrod.....

Not only is he a beauty, he is turning out to be one of my all time heroes.   The one thing I have always not embraced about Survivor, was anyone that was "Religious" was kind of made fun of on that show.  But Matt has changed the course of reality tv.   He's been very vocal about loving God.  And letting God lead him through this journey.    Matt got culled from the herd early in the season.  He got sent to "Redemption Island", which this season, is where you go after you're voted out, to have a chance to re-enter the game, through winning challenges.   Not only has Matt been removed from all the ridiculous Game-playing that is Survivor, he has been able to witness to everyone that gets voted out and sent to the island, and spend time in a quiet, alone place with them, introducing them to God.  It's short of amazing.  And the more amazing part to me, is that the TV gurus are actually SHOWING some of it. 

Matt is David in the midst of Survivor giants.  This past week he was so defeated , after being allowed back into the tribe, they immediately voted him BACK to redemption island.  As a human, that is painful.  That is rejection, that is being "Weird".   After being rejected, and cast out again, he had some dark moments doubting that he should be on the game of Survivor at all.   I have vocally encouraged him from my recliner every week, and I wish he could hear how I am rallying him on!

This week, another player got sent to Redemption Island, and after she lost her challenge, yet again to Matt (he has won 10 in a row)  she tearfully told the camera, that she had wanted to win the million, because she was a single mom with her house in foreclosure, and was really needing the boost.  She went on to say, that after TALKING TO MATT, she had renewed strength, and the first thing she was doing when she got home was .....FIND A CHURCH.  She was leaving with a sense of purpose and new feelings.  I felt tears well in my eyes.   Matt Elrod isn't losing at Survivor: Redemption Island, the reality tv show ... Matt Elrod is leading fellow tribe members to the true REDEMPTION ISLAND.  The grand prize of them all.   And I stand amazed that I am able to watch that unfold.   Finally, TV that is worth talking about. 

And I'd just like to add ....  I have a daughter I'd love him to meet. 

Devil Trees and Long Stinky Roots

When I bought my house, the backyard was a paradise.  The man that lived here was a retired military man that had too much time on his hands.  He had this backyard pristine and amazing.  It took me 3 years to bring it to my standard of living, and make it look like I live here.  3 years.

To add insult to injury, I think this man thought that he should have a totally shaded roof for the western evening sun, and planted 4.... yes four, trees in this tiny beautiful backyard.   2 bradford pears, 1 weeping willow, and a tree I'm not sure what it is called, but I called it the "Devil Tree".

This devil tree, when coming out of winter dormancy, instead of flowering beautiful little flowers to make me sneeze, would shoot off what I call, Devil Spawn.  and from that Spawn........3 zillion little devil trees, shooting up all over in every conceivable place known to man.

The big ice storm of 08 took out that devil tree, and I have never been so happy to see something split in two in my LIFE.  But not before it left 3 zillion liitle babies, cropping up in every flower bed in my lovely park-like backyard.  I have been pulling tiny trees out of flower beds for 2 summers now.  And after about a week of painful pulling (these things have devil roots) I went all Mr. T on those tiny trees and just got my snippers and cut them back to the ground...leaving them there to grow even bigger roots and make my life so much more fun this spring.

As I was pulling these devil trees this morning, and wondering how it is that I only have left hand gloves in my possession  (Where do those right ones go?), I got to thinking about sin and how left unchecked, and swept under the rug, it can take root, and just ruin your beautiful garden.  If left untended, and not dealt with, you can count on, it springing it's ugly, unwanted head up, right in the middle of your marigolds.  You have to DEAL with it, either with counseling, or accountability, or prayer, and FIX it.  Pull that dang weed OUT of the ground and be done with it for once and for all.  When I say accountability, I can tell you, if my mom had been outside with me, when I was doing the snip snip to those sinful baby trees last year, she would have stopped me and said  "Take the time, do it right, and be rid of them".   Accountability partners in life are very necessary.  They keep you from taking the easy way.  And they are there to help get rid of the big stinky ones that are almost too deep to pull out of the ground by yourself.

So this year, I am enlisting slave labor (also known as Hallie and my cousin Austin), and we are beating the devil trees.  It's not always easy, just like ridding your life of some of your sinful choices.   I had to sacrifice one of my favorite small bushes, because the roots were so entangled with so many baby devil trees, there was no saving it, and that made me think, too...that sometimes, no matter how great you look, if you are too close to the devil trees, and they can get their roots into can rob you of your existence.   Don't let that happen.  Examine the roots, find the devil trees, and get some help from your slave labor, your friends, your lifegroup, your family, and pull them out.

That way, when spring rolls around, all you have to do is plant the beautiful things, and the devil trees don't rob you of your time, or joy.

God is good, all the time. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lacey's thoughts on Easter 2011

This Easter is more emotional for me than any Easter in the past. Not just because my angel baby isn't here for me to dress up and take pictures with the Easter bunny...ok maybe a little because of that. But mainly because this Easter my heart is finally open to understanding exactly how much God loves me that he would send his only Son to die on the cross for me - Me, the unworthy sinner who will never live up to the person Jesus was.

The sermon series at church this month is called "Weird. Because normal isn't working." It's got me thinking about what a "normal" Easter looks like...stressing out about getting everyone dressed up in their uncomfortable clothes because it's "Easter" afterall, we need to look nice. Spending too much money on Easter baskets that will soon be discarded anyway. Worrying about which relative's house to visit and what dish we need to make for lunch.  That's a normal Easter. Yes, it is fun to hunt eggs and take family pictures in our nice clothes, but that isn't the only thing Easter should be about...It's a celebration of the fact that Jesus Christ, after dying a painful and humiliating death on the cross, rose from the grave on the third day so that I can be free. So that I can have the promise of forgiveness, and grace, and eternal life. Isn't that AMAZING?!

Speaking of weird...I find it funny that we have been experiencing a drought here in Oklahoma this year. Today it finally rains. Today, Easter Sunday. The day the normal thing to do is go outside and hunt eggs. Rain+hail on Easter=WEIRD. I love it.

Another thing...I know how much I love my little Laynie, and it doesn't even begin to compare with how much God loves me. It's unfathomable! He sent His son to die for me. That was the whole purpose of Jesus' life. To die on a cross and be resurrected on the third day to give us all life. I can't imagine willingly giving up a child to save a bunch of strangers, yet God did it. I am so thankful for true love like that.

This morning I have been listening to "True Love" by Phil Wickham. It's a great song. A very powerful song. Here are the lyrics:

Come close listen to the story
About a love more faithful than the morning
The Father gave His only Son just to save us

The earth was shaking in the dark
All creation felt the Fathers Broken Heart
Tears were filling Heaven's Eyes
The day that True Love died, the day that True Love died
When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn't move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that True Love died, The day that True Love died

Search your heart you know you can't deny it
Come on, lose your life just so you can find it
The Father gave His only Son just to save us

The Earth was shaking in the dark
All creation felt The Fathers broken heart
Tears were filling Heaven's Eyes
The day that True Love died, the day that True Love died

When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn't move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that True Love died, The day that True Love died

Now, Jesus is alive

Jesus is alive
Jesus is alive
Jesus is alive
Jesus is alive
Oh, He is alive
He rose again

When blood and water hit the ground
Walls we couldn't move came crashing down
We were free and made alive
The day that True Love died, The day that True Love died

Come close listen to the story

Anytime I start to miss Laynie I am filled with peace that I will see her again one day. I am so thankful and overwhelmed with emotions when I think about the sacrifice Jesus made for me.  I am so unworthy of His love, yet He loves me. I have hope for the future because of God's promise. Thank you Lord for sending your Son to die on the cross for me. Thank you for the promise you gave me when He rose on the third day.

Happy WEIRD Easter.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Karen Kingsbury & I

I just finished my weekend as a volunteer at Karen Kingsbury's booth at the OKC Women of Joy conference.  It was delightful and exhausting and exhilirating,

First of all, I just wish to throw a disclaimer out there, that Karen, herself, said the best exercise for your liver is laughter.  So, get ready to exercise your livers, because you know if I am out to make a good impression, and TRYING to do my best, what the results usually turn out to be.

Well, let's just say, I was TRYING my VERY best to make a good impression.


The first couple of days went great.  Everyone knows I'm a selling machine, (except those poor unsuspecting ladies at the WOJ conference) and even the best intentioned person, that only wanted to buy one pitiful book, usually ended up with 5 Baxter Books AND a tote bag to carry it in.  I don't play when it comes to selling.  Especially Karen Kingsbury's stuff. 

The problem is, I need to realize my strengths and stick to them.  At all costs.  For everyone's sake. 

Today, Karen's right hand man, Will (yes, girls, he's a hottie)

asked me to take pictures after Karen's talk, when she was signing books for the patient women that wait in line to have the chance to meet her and get her autograph. 
My job, and ONLY job, was to use Karen's camera and take pictures of her and her adoring fans for facebook.   It's one camera, right??  How hard can it be?  I take pictures, right?  I have a camera.  I am a competent, self-assured women, that can stare grizzlies in the face and back them down with a snarl.  Right?  Right?


In retrospect, I wish my children had been there to remind me that, USUALLY I am only IN the pictures, never TAKING the pictures.  I did fine with the camera that was supplied to me, but the cameras shoved at me, by the waiting adoring women (which, if you've EVER stood in one of those lines, you know that those sweet, Christian ladies become WWF fighters if their place in line is challenged) and before long, Karen Kingsbury, famous author, writer of movies, excellent wife and mother, beautiful speaker in front of large crowds, was practically having to hold EACH camera and take pictures of herself AND the lady she was autographing the books for.    YES..  practically having to write me step by step instructions.   In my defense (which is shaky at best), I was handed flip phones, iphones (which I did thankfully know how to use), smart phones, dumb phones, phones that didn't even take pictures, cameras that were turned off and had to be turned on, and cameras so smart I just had to stand there and hold them.  People, it was mayhem.  And my job was to keep the line moving and mayhem at bay.  I. Failed. Miserably.  All I managed to do well, was keep a brand new sharpie in my hand, so when hers ran out, I was Johnny on the spot.   I did that well.  And that was all.  And my type of personality doesn't take a failure well.  So of course, after leaving the event, I climbed in my car, defeated and embarrassed, having let Karen Kingsbury down so completely and utterly and cried for 10 minutes. 

Then wiped off my tears, and started writing this blog in my head.  So everyone could share in my misery, and exercise their livers right along with me. 

I would love to say that we spent 2 hours together and I got to share with her Laynie's wonderful story, and through her tears over my perfect, beautiful heartfelt words, she assures me that, not only will she help me publish my book, she also wants to have Laynie as a character in her next book, and that because I am obviously such an incredible person to be around, that she would love to offer me a job as her personal assistant, to read all of her books, and help her brainstorm. 

Yep, I wish I could say that. 

Here's what really happened.  Yes, I met her.  Yes, we liked each other.  Yes, she is just as beautiful in person as on her bookcovers (even more so).  Yes, she is a TRUE woman of God.  I knew immediately we would and could become friends, in spite of myself and my swan ability.   But, instead of sharing a 5 minute elevator version of Laynie's story, when, I had Karen Kingsbury's complete and undivided attention, I lost my brain and couldn't even remember how to spell my name for her to autograph my book.  And stupidly asked her if she would like to read my book  (because she hasn't heard that 2.5 million times already).   Just because you're a doctor, and someone finds out you are a doctor and starts asking you questions about their colon, and expect you to just fix their colon problem, even though you are a foot doctor. (Ok, this might be a dumb example) BUT,  I think Karen Kingsbury gets "Please help me with my book" a lot.   And I'm sorry I wasted that valuable, precious moment in time, bringing that up.  

Because I would have much rather told her that in reading her Baxter series, she helped my family heal from losing Laynie.  She was able to touch the parts of our hearts that we needed specific touches to, and start our healing process.  We all read them, and had huge discussion on the merits of being a Baxter and if given a chance, would wrestle each other for a place at their table.  I grieved when Ashley and Landon lost their precious Sarah, and was just awestruck how a writer could tap the feelings so perfectly of losing a child and feeling the preciousness and the grief so acutely.    I would have told her that the very first book I read was with Daisy, the down syndrome adult, that, with her friends, had some loud, exhuberant prayer in McDonalds and made me laugh out loud at their antics, and so soon after losing Laynie, I didn't know when I would ever laugh again. 

I would have told her that I am so blessed to know that, in reading her books, that I finally understood the voice of God in my head as a certainty.  I have heard His voice my whole life, and never credited it being God, and after reading her books, I understand that quiet voice, and now I listen, and obey.

So, when Karen Kingsbury finally lifts the restraining order from me,  I will share these things with her. 

All my fellow volunteer posse heard about Laynie, bacause you know I can't do 10 minutes without sharing her, and now are proud owners of purple HOPE FOR LAYNIE bracelets. 
You can't see them too great in this picture, but they are there, and we wore them proudly today, with our "Member of the Baxter Family" tshirts, as we worked together, as a Baxter-loving team, for our new friend, Karen Kingsbury. 

If ever given another opportunity, I will gladly volunteer for her again at another table and sell another 2000 books.   Just, please, for the sake of all that is holy, don't hand me a camera.  If you don't already know the Baxters, you better just get on the stick, and meet them.  

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tacos and job thoughts

Hallie and I were getting her 6 (yes, 6..she is a growing girl) after school tacos today at Taco Bell, and she saw a "Help Wanted" sign on the window, which caused the following conversation....

Hallie:   "Mom, you could totally work at Taco Bell"

Me:  "I would kill myself first"

Hallie:   (reading from sign) "Why?? "It pays to have fun".
Me:   "Ugh"

Hallie:  "Think outside the bun, mom".

Maybe the girl is on to something.  :)  Not at Taco Bell, but the whole "Thinking outside the bun" thing.  I am so open to anything right now. 

We are talking about being "Weird" at church.  "Because normal isn't working".  I agree.  Outwardly, right now, I probably look to the world like a bum.  A Loser.   But I know that I have put in place some wonderful things that would not have happened had I been traveling, and working any of the jobs I had interviewed with... 

I volunteered to help the author Karen Kingsbury sell her books at her booth at the "Women of Joy" conference here in OKC on the weekend of April 15.   I had been wanting to go ever since I got the flyer about it about 2 months ago.  Couldn't swing the price, and now I get to go to the conference and not only go free, but get to meet and talk to one of my most favorite authors EVER.  That's a "God" deal if ever I heard it.   Saw a post on her facebook page today asking for OKC volunteers and HELLO, that's me.  After one quick email, I was in.  Just. Like. That.   

I'm going to keep the "Taco Bell" mentality  in the job search and listen to God's guiding voice, and keep looking "Outside of the bun". 

Yo quiero, taco bell. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Uncle Leon

I lost my uncle this week.  Today the family met at his home and worked through his belongings.  I found one thing in the entire house that I will cherish the rest of my life. 

Life is fleeting... never take one day for granted.  Love full out, live passionately, praise God for every blessing you are given.  Especially uncles that you cherish forever.  Rest in Peace, Uncle Leon, I will always love you.    xoxo, Laurie