Miss Woodhouse's Musings

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When the Jury’s Actually Out – Episode Two

Welcome back to When the Jury’s Actually Out. Last time, our unlikely heroine discovered that she’d been selected to serve on a criminal court case. Let’s get back to the story.

Lunch over, we returned to the courtroom via our highly stylish method of escalator travel. I tried to find some measure of comfort in the slight familiarity of the journey, and in the ever-present figure in the white polo. We walked into the courtroom, now crowded with spectators, and let me tell you that is no walk in the park for someone with social anxiety issues. Every head turned, every conversation stopped. Countless pairs of  eyes raked us up and down, silently assessing what they thought our ability to judge the case was. I kept reminding myself to breathe as the lovely bailiffs pushed themselves between us and the audience and ensconced us in the relative safety of the deliberation room. There, we seated ourselves around a large table and made awkward small talk. We got to know each other a bit – retirees, teachers, business people, and a few young hourly workers. Most of us were readers, and I found myself breaking the ice with others by asking them about the books they held. Married, single, divorced, all represented. Parents and not. Overly educated, and just barely educated. It truly was a great cross-section of humanity. We all developed an easy, joke-cracking camaraderie that would draw criticism in the days to come, but was our only saving grace during the case. One lovely older woman took an interest in me (along with the knitting she carried with her) and made sure that I didn’t fade into the background. At some point the bailiff came in to ask if any of us wanted to take notes, and I was one of four to accept. Whether I needed the help was yet to be seen, but better safe than sorry and it gave me something to do with my hands.

The beginning of the case was fairly dull, even given the subject matter. The judge even had to wake one of the older gentlemen up, which would have been funnier if I hadn’t been on the verge of dozing off myself. Once we were in the jury box, the courtroom didn’t explode with questionings and accusations like you see on TV. Also, I began to notice the extreme deference with which we were being treated. In many courtroom dramas, the jury is window-dressing to the more sensational world of cross-examination and witness breakdowns. In this court, the jury was treated reverentially. It wasn’t until I saw how deferentially the judge treated us that the full enormity of the situation hit me. We were the axis. We would decide the fate of this man on trial, forever. The lawyers, witnesses, and judge could only present so much and go so far. We had the final say. Let me tell you, that is an intensely sobering realization. Here I was, 24, barely able to keep my own life running somewhat smoothly, and I was to help decide the course of another human being’s life? Wow. Just…wow.

We didn’t do too much that day – opening statements and a witness or two. The judge adjourned us for the day, with another reminder to not talk about the case, etc, read the news, look online, try to visit the site of the alleged incident, so on and so forth. We then made the trip back down to the waiting room, signed out, got our passes for the next day, and left the courthouse. I met up with my parents for a coffee and told them what I could: I’d been selected, it would be a few days, and I can’t say anymore. Already, the few details I knew were weighing heavily on my mind, and I just sat quietly most of the evening while everyone else talked about their day, finally checking out in front of the television to watch a movie. Normally I’m a huge internet junkie, but I didn’t want to run the risk of seeing something I shouldn’t regarding the case. I turned in, and tried to sleep, facts and adrenaline flooding my system and fighting off oblivion.

I arrived at the jury room the next morning, and was soon joined by my thirteen new best friends. Again we took our journey through the building, again we braved the stares and whispers. I can’t even begin to explain how horrible this day was. We heard things, heartbreaking things that you don’t even want to see on the most brutal of crime dramas. We were showed pictures, given explanations, facts as best the could be described, sent out of the room any time either side overstepped their bounds of presenting and wandered into interpretation. That was our job, to interpret. Not theirs. We heard from police, detectives, eyewitnesses, expert witnesses…and a child. Let me tell you, that was the most difficult thing of all. Sometimes they show children testifying on TV shows, but I can assure you that there’s nothing in life more devastating than listening to a child testify about things they shouldn’t know about for many more years to come, and seeing the blank emptiness behind their eyes. All I wanted to do was run and throw my arms around the child, tell them everything was going to be okay – not because I was yet set to make a ruling, but because I really, truly wanted to believe that they could be okay again. Whether I voted guilty or innocent for the defendant made no difference. The damage was done either way, and all I wanted was to see it repaired. But, through it all, I couldn’t react. I couldn’t let a flicker of emotion show.

That’s another thing you don’t fully realize about jury duty from the TV. You are under constant scrutiny the entire time you’re in the courtroom. Both sides want to get a bead on how the jury is leaning, and they are trained to catch shifts in body language and flickers of expression. The last thing I wanted to do was allow either side to think that I was swaying towards a favourable verdict to them, because when I walked into that jury room the next day to start making deliberations, I truly did not know what I was going to say. I really, really hated the prosecution. I can’t tell you how much I didn’t like the lawyers, their “facts”, their witnesses, their whole case. It was flimsy at best; not their fault given the circumstances but they still came across as untrustworthy. More unfortunately, the defense’s legal counsel seemed inept. There were so many questions they left unasked, so many things I yearned to know to help me make an informed recommendation. Perhaps there was a good reason to leave those questions unasked, I truly hope that is the case. Otherwise…I just don’t know.

Due to the nature of the case, we were being presented with two separate (yet related) charges, and also due to the nature of the case, some of the evidence was not allowed to be publicly shown in the courtroom. Later, during deliberations, we would have the chance to view that evidence, but more on that later. The main thing that day was the fact that above all else, we somehow had to compartmentalize our brains and divorce our feelings and emotions from the greater picture, for now. During our times in the deliberation room, we’d talk about banalities and crack jokes. As humans, we process information by thinking, talking, sharing. We weren’t supposed to be thinking about the case yet, we weren’t allowed to talk about it, and of course that meant no sharing. At one point the bailiff came in to chide us for them being able to hear laughter on the other side of the imitation poster-board wall. One of the jurors, an older man with weight behind his words, turned to stare blankly at the bailiff and replied “Well, they can’t accuse us of being in here talking about the case. There’s nothing funny about all this.” The bailiff shrugged and left. Secretly, I think that he understood better than his position would allow him to let on. I felt badly for him – we had each other to distract us from the grim case at hand while he was left standing there alone with his own thoughts. It must be so, so lonely.

That’s all I have the emotional energy for in this second installment of When the Jury’s Actually Out. In the next sections I’ll go over deliberations, verdicts, and security. Until then…be well.

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When the Jury’s Actually Out – Episode One

I’m convinced that there’s nothing quite as character-shaping and life-defining as serving on a jury. It should come as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of people stepping up and doing their civic duty. Chalk it up to my mum’s early exposure of me to Perry Mason and Matlock, but I love anything related to law or courtrooms. In fact, my next NaNoWriMo book is based on a court room drama…but that’s a posting for another time.

What I’m grappling with currently is as far from crime fiction as you can get. It is the effect of cold, hard reality. You see, I believe in my civic duty, and a few years back I reported for jury duty. I’d almost made it through my assigned month of Tuesday “on call”…and then that fateful Monday night the words “required to report” listed my name amongst the others. Now, let’s be honest here. I was excited! I’d get to go to the courthouse, see some of the cool things that go on in a courtroom, and eventually be dismissed from serving because who would want a 24 year old teacher/barista sitting on a case? Or, maybe it would be a low-key civil case and I would get selected and could see what cross-examination looks like up close and personal! Either way, I was excited to spend a day away from my students and customers and expand my horizons.

For most of the morning, it was all very awesome. I showed up on time, parked in the assigned lot, put my little pass up in the window, locked my cell phone in the car as per city laws, and made my way through security. Once in, the staff was very nice in helping me find the jury quarters, buried a bit in the back of the building and well into the basement. There were about 60 other people in the waiting room with me, all from the various age groups, ethnicity, and walks of life which makes our justice system so awesome. After an awkward, let’s-check-each-other-out-but-avoid-eye-contact hour with my “peers,” we were herded into another room to watch a screening of the courthouse blockbuster of the year, “How to be A Juror and Thank You for Giving Up Your Soap Operas to Come Do Your Civic Duty Since We Won’t Accept Anymore of Your Reasons to Be Excused…Again.” I managed to get through the film without falling asleep by imagining that it was actually created to be a torture device for captured insurgents – 10 minutes of the rampant patriotism and bad acting would have me spilling secrets almost as effectively as waterboarding if I had any secrets to spill. After the movie (which definitely needed some soda and popcorn), we retired to our now familiar waiting room and resumed counting the ceiling tiles silently to ourselves. At some point, either in the room or before the movie, we were informed that there was one court case that day, and it was a criminal case. All I really remember is a collectively uncomfortable shifting in our seats. It’s one thing to be on a jury…but a criminal case? I could see the gears beginning to turn in the minds of my fellow potential jurors; “what do I have to say to get dismissed from the case?” Still feeling confident, I returned to counting ceiling tiles while holding a folder of papers that I should have been grading. Who can focus on British Literature when there’s Law School happening right in front of you?

About an hour before lunch, new and official-looking people entered the waiting room, and you could feel the energy change even though they said nothing. As one, all the potential jurors packed away whatever they’d been holding in their hands to occupy them, and gathered their belongings closely. Sure enough, within 5 minutes we were ushered on the beginning of a journey through the court house that would become all too familiar over the next days. Outside of an airport or shopping mall, I’d never seen so many escalators and stairs and elevators and open balconies and fake plants and large windows. I’d also never seen so many lawyers since freshman orientation at my university (it was a very well-respected Law School as well so they were EVERYWHERE). Feeling very civilian and undereducated, I allowed myself to be ushered along from escalator to landing to escalator and so forth. During the movie we’d been warned not to interact with anyone in the environment, not even each other. Until voir dire was complete, we were our own little islands. Take that, John Donne. My nerves grew as people stopped talking and turned to stare at us. I couldn’t discern what stares were merely idle curiosity, and which ones held hostility. I observed as much as I could peripherally, and noticed almost immediately a man in a white polo watching our every move. I couldn’t make out the logo on his shirt, but it looked official. As we took the escalators, he watched us from a distance, taking elevators to keep abreast of our floor-to-floor progress. I knew I should feel safe and secure and assume that this very muscular and unsmiling man was there to protect us, but honestly it just made my heart beat faster with uncertainty. We didn’t stop until we reached the top floor. With no where else to go, we made our way down a hallway.

We filed into a court room, and it was everything my little law geek heart could ask for. Darkly carved wooden chairs, tables, benches, a beautiful judge and witness stand, rich green carpets, creamy walls, and brass lighting fixtures on the walls and hanging from the ceiling. Double wood doors lead into the courtroom, and a door stood on either side of the back. The one on the right was for the judge, the defendant, and bailiffs, and the one on the left lead to the jury room. The first 14 of us filled the jury box, and the rest of us were seated in the spectator seats. All told, we filled up half the room, all shifting uncomfortably in our seats. The first few questions were generic, broad, and had already been answered when we sent in our jury screening surveys. But repetition, form, and clarity are at the heart of law. I feel like defining “law” as “check…then double check…then triple check…then check at least once more but probably twice at the minimum.” Again, all the respect in the world for our legal system. We answered with stand-up, sit-down and it crossed my mind more than once that this must be what going to a traditional school must be like. After weeding out a few people who apparently didn’t read the questionnaire carefully, we got into more specific questions. I don’t remember them all, but I do remember the one that made my blood start to chill: “Can you devote more than one day to serving on a jury to this case?” I wanted so, so badly to say I couldn’t, that I needed to work my shift at Starbucks the next day. But I knew that wasn’t true; I’d been in contact with my manager about jury duty and we had contingency plans in place. Question after question rolled out, and pool became smaller and smaller. I stifled the urge to roll my eyes at some of the responses – they were blatantly and artlessly answered in a way to get them dismissed. I swear there were moments where the judge had to suppress an eyeroll himself, and I began to feel a sense of camaraderie with him.

The questions grew more specific. Being reminded constantly that we were under oath and expected to keep confidentiality, they began to reveal what the case was. To my horror, I realized that I genuinely didn’t have a clue as to the case at hand. The alleged incidents occurred during my last semester at university, and I’d been far too busy to keep up with local news. As the questions continued, the case continued to unfurl…race issues…minor’s involved…sex crime. That’s all I will say about the case, but I think it is enough to give you a rough idea; and rough it was. My blood was well and truly frozen over by this point, and I worked very hard to keep my voice steady when addressed for questions. As the pool shrank, the bailiffs kept moving us up closer and closer to the front, not allowing any empty chairs between any of us. By the final questions, I was sitting in the jury box, enjoying being able to see the whole court room from that vantage point. I figured this was my only chance to enjoy it, so I soaked up every detail I could. Even now, I can picture that courtroom clearly with my eyes wide open. It is indelibly etched on my mind.  Finally, voir dire came down to something that felt like the lightening round in a game show, or worse yet team selection for dodge-ball in PE. Each side ranked the jurors with a check or an x. The jurors refused by both sides were automatically dismissed. The ones that were split came down to an each by each basis. Either side could absolutely veto a juror, but they only had a small number of vetoes (I think three or five). If both sides could say they didn’t absolutely hate you, you stayed in. I could catch glimpses of the sheets they held, and I remember thinking “Oh, this is juror bingo.” It is an odd feeling, to say the least. Finally, the scores were tallied and as Ryan Seacrest used to say, the results were in. The group collectively held their breath as each juror was named, letting it out a little in relief every time their name wasn’t called. Twelve names were called, then they called two more so we would have a jury of fourteen (two alternates in case of illness or corruption). Name thirteen was mine.

I was stunned, sitting there in shock. During the process we had individual interviews, and I knew based on what I told the court that the defense didn’t want me. I saw the look on the lawyer’s face as the names were being called for final consideration, and I saw him decisively mark an x over my name. But, apparently there were three other people he liked less than me. I was in. The prosecution had succeeded in getting me in. The judge congratulated us all, reviewed some rules with us (mainly that “don’t talk to anyone about anything” stuff), then dismissed everyone to reconvene after lunch. The fourteen of us were taken back down the endless escalators, back to the waiting room. Too much in shock to consider leaving for lunch, I sat and ate the snacks I’d brought “just in case” and stared at a wall. I was a juror, on a criminal case.

Cut to commercial break…more story on the next episode of When the Jury’s Actually Out.


Stupid Shopping

This past Labour Day was the first time I’d had a three day holiday weekend off along with the majority of the free world. Let me tell you, it felt amazing!!!! We filled our evenings by spending time with family and friends, but true to my form, I couldn’t face the idea of spending three days just lolling around the apartment aimlessly. So, I created a game for James and me to play: Stupid Shopping.

We both enjoy the process of shopping, but being poor Millennials we don’t have the money to just buy random things that we don’t need. Seeing as how we want to transition out of the apartment rental life sometime in the next few decades, I thought that doing some theoretical shopping for a future house would be more fun on a weekend where all the stores are trying to sell, Sell, SELL! If that isn’t geeky enough, I decided to assign a point system to our shopping excursions to keep it interesting and do a little bit of behaviour manipulation for us to. All in the name of science…and shopping!

The basic rules are as follows:

  1. Lock your wallets (cards, cash, and all) into your glove box or trunk before entering an establishment.
  2. Limit phone/electronic interaction. The point is to interact with each other and your environment – bring a notebook and kick it old school.
  3. Don’t waste employee’s time. As you will see in the points system, you only get credit if they are being tenacious and really want to try and sell to you. Since the goal of your shopping journey is information, not purchasing, leave them free to chat to buying consumers.
  4. Have fun! Dream big, talk practically. The idea is to find out features and perks you like and don’t like in a non-pressured environment.

Now, for the fun part! I wrote these rules and points down on a page of our notebook, and we hashmarked the points we earned at the end of each shopping stop. I’ll put any explanation for a rule next to it in parenthesis. We decided to keep our focus on the kitchen area of the house: fridge, stove, range, dishwasher, and washer/dryer. Next time we are going to attack bathroom/kitchen fixtures!!!

Points System:


  • Enter store front – 5 points
  • Have salesperson engage of own volition – 5 points
  • “Lowest price ever” spotted or said – 30 points
  • Salesperson starts sales spiel – 50 points
  • Salesperson tries to close spiel – 1000 points
  • Find something we actually really, really want to put in a house – 50 points
  • Find a sale price ending in 4 – 50 points
  • Find a sale price ending in 2 – 500 points
  • Compare prices on identical items at different stores – 100 points
  • Hear the phrase “this weekend only” – 5 points
  • Sit on display chair/sofa – 5 points (because I believe it is a crime to pass up sitting on a comfy couch
  • Offered store’s line of credit – 50 points

Now, for the negative points!

  • Make a purchase – -1000 points (remember, our goal was a cheap date activity)
  • Engage a salesperson – -10 points (now, there’s no rule against using your acting skills to attract a salesperson if you have an actual question so they approach you)
  • Say  the phrase “this weekend only” – -50 points (sale prices don’t matter since we aren’t actively buying)
  • Take a picture of something to buy later – -5 points (write it down, look it up later! Stay in the moment)
  • Lay on a display mattress – -10 points (James really wants to buy a new mattress but it isn’t in the budget. This was my way of keeping him from falling in love with something he isn’t ready to buy!)

The points are made to be tailored, so they are just a good guideline. The point is to have fun with them! Our trip ended up being very successful – by the end of the three days we had a great idea of things we like, don’t like, absolutely hate, and an example of a product we’d buy if we were purchasing now. What’s even cooler is we discovered that our tastes automatically run very middle of the road price-wise (we didn’t fall in love with anything completely unaffordable), and the final products we loved all had high four or true five star consumer ratings! Go us.

Want to see what we fell in love with? Here they are!

First up, stove and range. James has turned me from being an electric-only girl into a head-over-heels in love with gas cooking. It is faster, stabler, and produces a better cooking experience in my opinion. What we were hoping to find is a five burner range, with a split convection oven…in gas. For the first two days we came up with nothing close. We could have a double-door gas oven, but all the ones we found put the smaller oven compartment on top so if you’re going to put a roast in the bigger compartment, you basically have to sit on the floor to do so. Yeah, no. Then, we found an electric model that has a standard oven compartment, but includes a smart shelf that when inserted turns the one compartment into two separate cooking spaces. Finally, at our last stop on Monday, we found the gas equivalent! It appears that gas convection is a very new technology, so I’m excited to see if it will catch on.

NX58J7750SS Gas Flex Duo®Range with Griddle and Wok Grate (Stainless Steel)


Next up is the hood! I would love a down draft, but in the event that we can’t do that I really want something low profile and airy. James isn’t 100% convinced yet, but I’m beginning to win him over.

Frigidaire Convertible Wall-Mounted Range Hood (Stainless Steel) (Common: 30-in; Actual 29.875-in) Model #: FHWC3060LS


The fridge is the one thing that we found on the first stop, and stayed in love with through the whole shopping trip. We love the French doors, the dual freezer compartments, the multiple drawers with individual humidity controls, the large door compartments, the ice/water dispenser, and the handles. Oh yes, we are thorough!

Whirlpool 24.7-cu ft French Door Refrigerator with Single Ice Maker (Stainless Steel) ENERGY STAR Model #: WRF736SDAM


The dishwasher gave us a lot of problems. We wanted flexible, quiet, functional, and a low profile handle. You wouldn’t think this would be a hard thing to find, but it really was! We finally went with a KitchenAid model that fits our wants well.

KitchenAid 46-Decibel Built-In Dishwasher (Stainless Steel) (Common: 24-in; Actual 23.875-in) ENERGY STAR

Model #: KDFE104DSS


Finally, our washer/dryer. We aren’t totally sold on these models, but they feature an agitatorless, top loading washer, a great dryer, see-through lids, and these particular models have a shallower depth than most conventional sets (about 3 inches shallower).

Maytag Bravos 4.3-cu ft High-Efficiency Top-Load Washer (White) Model #: MVWX655DW


Maytag Bravos 7-cu ft Electric Dryer (White) Model #: MEDX655DW


So, there you go. Behold the very boring and adult way that we waste a weekend…but honestly, we had a lot of fun. Once we finalized what we liked, we used Evernote to create a list with model numbers and images in a shared notebook so that we have it with us for future reference. Leave a comment below if you’ve done something like this, or if you decide to do so; I’d love other tips and hints!


Um. Oops.

So, I suck at blogging. Really, really really. I’m so sorry.

See, the thing is that I begin to write an amazing post, but I always want it to be perfect, poignant, and poetic. So, it goes unpublished. NO MORE!!! I shall attempt to return to the land of the bloggers. Here goes!

Life is interesting at the moment! Back in April of 2014 I was given an amazingly busy, high profile Starbucks right on the Oceanfront (like, for serious, the sand is a block away). Since then, life has been a series of insane events. I’m probably going to end up writing a book about my experiences. You will find it in the fiction section because absolutely no one will believe the actual things that I deal with on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Have YOU ever called the police and banned a 70 year old man from your business establishment because he missed the toilet in the loo for the 9th straight day in a row? Have YOU ever had to run random locker checks because someone thinks it is funny to hide little bottles of alcohol in people’s belongings? Have YOU ever had a man sit in your place of business and play a banjo really really well?  I think not. Welcome to my life!

To keep things fresh, I moved down to the beach last April as well (like, for serious, the sand is a block away). I found this amazing, hotel-like apartment complex and have really enjoyed living there even though I’m about to move out. You see, I’ve made this friend that we jokingly call Ginger (she’s got red hair, so original on my part) and she and I are going to be roomies! She’s got an adorable little house that looks like I decorated it. SO much win.

We met Ginger at karaoke this summer…oh yes, I’ve become quite the little karaoke singer! I tend to do more mainstream, quiet pieces; but once I brought the whole bar to silence with my heartfelt rendition of “I Who Have Nothing.” Not that the bar was very crowded that night, but still. It was awesome. We also have fun with duets like “Bye, Bye Love,” “Sounds of Silence,” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Oh yes, and there’s a ‘we’ now. I’ve kinda met the most amazing guy ever working down here at the beach, but that’s a post for another day.

So, that’s a quick hit view of life. Things are busy, but pretty routine. Monday is admin day and small group night, Tuesday is Trivia Night (my team is first overall for the season right now!), Wednesdays tend to be pizza/movie night, Thursdays are blissfully unstructured, while Friday through Sunday tend to be a blur of opening shifts and shopping at WalMart. Oh, the glamour.

My store just got a huge remodel, so I will have to do some before/after for you all to enjoy my dominion. Ever heard of the Shamrock Marathon? It’s a pretty big deal around here, so I’m getting ready for that too. Our goal is to do over 1200 transactions March 21 and 22! Each day. We’ve so got this.

Bring it on!


2013 in review

Soooo, I’m a little late at posting this. 21 days late, to be precise. I’m working on some roundup posts to get back in the swing of blogging again, but in the meantime enjoy the numbers and thanks for being an amazing bloggy audience!



The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,200 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 37 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Let’s Chat About Money

God is a God who values logic and critical thinking. We see evidences of this in the Bible, such as the verse in Isaiah 1:18 where the Lord calls His people to reason with Him. In this case, the Hebrew word carries connotations of discussion, debate, conversation. The definite thrust of His call is that He wants to talk with His people, for His people to use their minds and talk through deep issues of salvation with Him.


This week, I’ve been studying the parable of the Shrewd Manager, found in Luke 16. The story itself is fascinating: a manager is called in by his boss and fired for mishandling his master’s funds. Because he sees no other options for his future, the manager moves quickly to lessen the debts that people owe to his (now former) boss, before any of the debtors find out about his loss of position. When the boss finds out about the ex-manager’s actions, he praises him for his good thinking! Even more amazingly, Jesus then goes on to look at His disciples and say, for all intents and purposes, ‘be like the manager.’


Say what now?


I’ll be honest, and admit right here right now that I was flummoxed by this story for many years. Is the ethical Jesus teaching us to cheat people even after they know that we are untrustworthy? Is He telling us to BE untrustworthy? This is all so confusing.


When you feel up a creek without the proverbial paddle, it is a good idea to look at the context, the situation in which the story is being told.


The parables preceding the story of the shrewd manager all deal with people who are searching for something they’ve lost. Loss taught the hearers about true value. In one case it was a sheep, in another a coin, in still another it was a child, but they all hold a uniting thread: they held value to the one searching for them. And the result of being found? Much rejoicing.


So, it seems a bit odd when Jesus shifts His storytelling to the disciples, and tells them about such a dishonest (though savvy) manager. But the real kick of the story comes in the application. Jesus turns His lesson into a series of if/then statements: IF you are faithful in little, THEN you will be faithful in much. IF you are unfaithful in little, THEN you will be unfaithful in much. IF you cannot be trusted with earthly riches (little), THEN who would trust you with eternal treasures (much)?


Ah, it makes more sense now. Take away our indignation at the manager’s dishonesty, and you are left with a story about a very smart man. He lost his job, no way around that. He knew himself well enough to know he wasn’t strong enough to go get real work, and he wasn’t humble enough to beg for his living. The only smart option was to create a situation where he looked good, his old boss looked good, people felt indebted to him, and the stakes would be too high for his old boss to undo the actions.


All in all, it was a brilliant plan. Which brings me to another question…when was the last time you used logic and critical thinking to that extent for any reason? What about for the Kingdom? When was the last time you plotted to make someone unsaved come to church with you? What was your last game plan for evangelism? Ouch. If you’re anything like me, the answers to those questions aren’t going to bring about any feelings of pride and joy.


However, Jesus doesn’t stop there. In all His infinite wisdom, He throws in another lesson application. “No man can serve two masters…you cannot serve both God and money.” At first read it is a seeming nonsequitor, but there’s a reason for the placement. Jesus just told His followers that they should be shrewd. He told them that they should wisely manage their earthly wealth to gain friends here on earth, and eternal treasures in heaven. But Jesus also knows that the siren call of money is strong, and that even those with the best intentions of use can fall prey to its evil enticements. How many ministries can you think of that have experienced set backs or fallen altogether because the leaders took the money they were managing for the Kingdom and funneled it into their own pockets instead?


This is the trap, this is the warning. Be shrewd, be sharp, be wise, be trustworthy with little and much…but remember that if you are serving the master of money, you aren’t serving God. In fact, Jesus further polarizes it by saying that you will LOVE one and HATE the other.


For me, this parable comes back to my rallying cry for Christians: don’t check your brain at the door! Jesus never asked us to put down our wisdom and take up our crosses to follow Him. In fact, wisdom is a gift He bestows on us, so let’s not waste it. Be as sharp as serpents, as harmless as doves, and may we never lose sight of the true treasure of all our eternities: the Kingdom.

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Change Is In The Air

*peers around the blog*

*taps microphone*


Um, is this thing still on?

So, I know it’s been a while since you all have heard from me. A long while. A VERY LONG while.

In my last post, I talked a lot and vaguely about different paths and which one I should take. Basically, I had a decision to make in April: sign another year’s teaching contract and remain a Shift Supervisor at Starbucks, OR take a leap of faith, stop teaching for now, and pursue an Assistant Manager position with Starbucks. It was a really hard choice to make. I LOVE teaching, love my students, and love being in the academic world. Teaching is so much of my life and passion that the mere idea of just stepping away for a bit was devastating.

When all was said and done though, it became evident that teaching just wasn’t in the cards for next year. You guys have no idea the amount of pain and tears that happened during March and April. Once the decision was made it couldn’t be undone, so I threw myself into the last few months of my teaching career. Back in January the drama teacher had asked me to come alongside her class and help instruct on Shakespeare, since they were doing three parodies of his works. When those plays were finished, I was asked to stay on with drama and help out on the final production. It was a crazy, crazy time of dancing, fighting, and jumping off of cliffs (in a theatrical stage sense!), and I loved every moment of it.

You haven’t lived until you’ve watched a bunch of high school students try to talk over heavy rain on a tin roof.

With production finished, the next big hurdle in life was prepping for final projects and graduation. That took up just about every spare moment that wasn’t already consumed with Starbucks. Crayzhay.

The last day of classes was very sad. My students are awesome though, and they passed around this lovely little journal that anyone at the program could sign. I keep the little leather journal by my bed…such an encouragement! We also hung out in my classroom for most of the morning watching Jane Eyre and talking about Doctor Who. They are such good little Whovians!

It was hard going home that day, but I had a plan. I sat down at the computer, and applied for an Assistant Manager position in the next district over. An opening had come up the week before, and for the first time, it felt right. So, I applied. And interviewed two weeks later. And interviewed again two weeks after that. And three days later, my new District Manager called and offered me the position!!!

Can we all just stop and freak out about this for a moment????


Thank you, that feels much better.

On July 29th, I start my new position, at my new store, in a new district. It is all exciting, but all nerve-wracking as well. In addition, we also lost our Regional supervisor last month (and I am so sad about that, you all have no idea), so we have a new one taking over this week too! So much change, but I think that it is all for the better.

These past few weeks have felt very productive. I’ve finished a lot of personal development training, helped train our newest barista, and participated in a veritable bevy of coffee and tea tastings. Tea tastings…are a revelation. I cannot wait to see the effect that Teavana has on Starbucks!!! We need some more tea materials in the store, I’m just saying.

Open tea bags…Chai, Zen, and Calm.

So, what else is new? I think that is enough for now. The next 10 days will fly by, I’m sure, in a whirl of book clubs, nursery duty, phantom shifts, food service tests, normal shifts, and otherwise crazy schedules!!!! I am very excited to see where the next chapter of my life leads me.

Here goes everything!

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And That Has Made All The Difference

There is a poem that, like it has for countless others, has always resonated in my mind. It is by the incomparable Robert Frost (Yes, I know he’s an American writer. No, in this case, I don’t mind.), and it speaks to the choices and decisions we make in our lives. It reads as follows: 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


Well, I am at that place in the woods. In less than two weeks I need to make a choice, and I am torn about what to do. Both options lie before me, each having an equal amounts of pros and cons. One path makes me feel more unsure about my future, but the other path locks me into a road I’m not sure I’m willing to be on for much longer.

I’ve put a lot of work and effort into both these ventures, and until now both paths have run, albeit tiringly, smoothly alongside each other. But now, there is a boulder separating one from the other forever, as far as I can see. My first thought was that if I could only figure out which was the one less traveled, I would know what I was to do. But, what defines less traveled? 

With an actual path, it would be the road that is overrun with grass, so long it has been since a human foot has trod on it. It would be the one with a smaller breadth, the one more often left off the maps. It is the one that only a few locals remember, and that even fewer know how to traverse. 

But life is not as clear as a path. Sure, one way is more…shall we say, commercial? But does that make it more traveled? Often on this road so far, I’ve felt very, very alone. And isn’t that the earmark of a road less traveled, that you have few fellow travelers, if indeed any at all? And the other road, it’s “off the beaten path” to be sure. But it is also the safe choice, the road that has been with me the longest. It is the safety net. It is a road I’ve traveled for a long time, a road that I can be pretty sure of where I’ll end up.

So, what if I determine the path less traveled? Does this really help me decide my future? Look at that last stanza. The speaker says that maybe, years and years down the road, he might recount this choice in the woods “with a sigh.” Is this good? Bad? All the speaker really tells us is that by taking the road less traveled, it made all the difference. 

Unfortunately for me, this doesn’t shed any illumination on my dilemma. Any choice, any decision, any stance makes “all the difference” in a life. Is difference a good thing, or a bad thing? Can we say with any certainty that our lives will be truly better if we go one way, than if we go another? Can we ever look back and say “this was the right path”? I think that we want to be able to trust our decisions. We want to say that hindsight is 20/20 and we know for sure that we made a good choice, or that we can see now how we made a bad choice. But, did we really?

We can’t predict the future, and we can’t change the past. We can’t run parallel lives and find out how a different choice truly would have affected our life. So, we create this environment that says if a decision in the past, then we can make definitive calls on how it impacted our lives. However, just as we cannot accurately predict the future, I don’t think that we can absolutely read the past.

Maybe this is the point that Frost wanted to make. Maybe he wanted us to see that we cannot travel two paths as the same person, and we cannot know where the path we did not choose would lead us. All we can do is look, evaluate, and take those first brave steps down the road of our choosing.

Which doesn’t help me decide which path to choose, in the least. 


Miss Me?

So, I missed a few days on my blogging challenge. Thursday was a horrible day, Friday was awesome but crazy, and Saturday, Sunday, and Monday were just needed for mental recovery from those two days. At some point I may go back and grab those posts, but for right now I’m just carrying on.

This blogging challenge has made me discover some things about myself. One is that I lack discipline sometimes. This is nothing ground breaking,but I had hoped I was doing better in the self-discipline area. The second discovery was how easily I get discouraged. In my mind, I missed Thursday’s post and almost gave up the whole project. Then I missed Friday and thought “there’s no way I’m ever catching up.” It wasn’t until today that it dawned on my little mind that I could just start fresh. I don’t need to make things up, I just need to finish to the best of my abilities. And so, that’s what I am going to do!

So, let’s go through a recap of the past few days.

Thursday: Let’s focus on the good first. Dad brought me lovely Valentine’s Day flowers, Mum got me a *huge* cookie from our school’s V-day cookie sale, and the brother got me ice cream! Sounds like an awesome day, right? Well, we should also add in the fact that I had a splitting migraine all day, my lovely little car ran completely out of oil and subsequently required $1100 of repairs, the rental car I borrowed was bare bones and made me a little nervous seeing as how I was driving around alone that night, rehearsal for drama ran very long, and despite having a performance the next day we were told that we couldn’t set up our stage before 10 am the next morning. Oh yeah…and after all that, I drove home, ready to sit down with a movie and the playlist for the performances…to discover that I left my garage door opener in the other car and no one was home to let me in.


Friday: This was an awesome day, made even awesomer  (yes, that is now a word) by how horrible the day before was. Because I really want to do a post just on Friday, I won’t go into it right now. But yes, this was a good day. A LONG day, but a good day.

Saturday: Sleep, work, sleep. Enough said!

Sunday: Sleep, church, work, sleep. Welcome to the scintillating pattern of my day-to-day life.

Monday: Monday was another pretty cool day. I was a little on the nervous side because I was up for my one year review as a Shift Supervisor. Unbeknownst to me, my SM also made time to go over my Partner Development Plan (PDP) with me and help me create a new PDP as I wait to start interviewing for my next position. I’ve had a rougher time personally these past six months than I have experienced in the past, so I wasn’t sure how things were going to go. Thankfully, my SM has really noticed all the hard work, time, and dedication I’ve been pouring out and she really commended me on it. It’s always nice to know that someone *is* seeing the good that you are doing.

We also got a chance to have a good, long talk about things going on in the district and with the company. The last thing I want to do is go blindly blundering into a position if I don’t feel like I’ll be able to support the direction that things are heading. While some events looming on the horizon make me very sad, overall I feel like things for the future are bright. All we can do is wait and see, but in the meantime we are working on plans to push our store’s potential to the max! Go team, go!

That’s where I’ve been for the past few days! What have you all been doing?

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In Which We Discuss Handsome British Actors

Gentle Readers,

Tonight I came home from work to find the family watching the 2008 version of the Agatha Christie’s Murder Is Easy. It is chock full of some of our favourite character actors: the evil Bingley sister from the A&E Pride and Prejudice, the brother from My Family and Other Animals (incidently, he’s in some Doctor Who as well!), that one brother from Notting Hill, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Now, now, stop laughing at his name. Because, in my opinion, this man is singlehandedly changing the face of British book adaptations. Namely, Sherlock Holmes. He plays a stunning Sherlock, brilliant and true to the original character even though the show is set in the modern day. He is edgy, sharp, brilliant, funny, nuanced, and just the right amount of “off.”

To be honest, he’s good in pretty much everthing I’ve seen him in. Take Murder Is Easy as an example. He doesn’t have a huge role, but when he is on screen you notice. Not in an annoying way, but in an “I have presence and know how to use it” way. He’s good! Awesome! Great!

So, what’s the takeaway here? What’s the moral? Here it is: if you haven’t already, watch Sherlock. If you’ve seen Sherlock, watch is again. Revel in the awesome Cumberbatchyness of it all! You’ll be glad you did.

Until tomorrow,

Miss W


(Photo Credit Unknown)

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