Miss Woodhouse's Musings

…about life, the universe, and everything. Don't panic!

The Write Motivation

Moment of truth; my brain is still fried, and I have a paper and a test to finish by midnight. Spell this: R-E-P-O-S-T!  I originally wrote this for my English Club’s blog (see sidebar for link), and it holds massively true today. In fact, I think that I was in week five or six of last session when I wrote it (it’s week six of this session). So, enjoy!

I’ll be honest here- I don’t always like to write. Correction: I don’t always like to write what I am assigned. Take now for instance. I have six major writing assignments due in the next three weeks (in addition to the little writing assignments), and I’m sitting in the library all ready to do research for them, yet I’m writing this post instead.

Shocking, I know.

I mean, what normal student would rather write a personal, conversational, no-rules-or-minimum-word-count blog post instead of scholarly research projects? Rest assured; I am being sarcastic here. Please don’t get me wrong, I love writing for school. Little feels more satisfying to me then looking at a well-completed paper neatly typed, printed, and stapled for handing in. However, my motivation is lacking at this moment.

So, I turn to my secret weapon, the one thing (the only thing) I have found to help me over this lethargy. It is a quote I found by the author Barbra Kingsolver: “There is no perfect time to write, there’s only now.” If that doesn’t snap you into action, nothing will. Tomorrow is not the right time to do my bibliography, now is. The weekend is not the time to catch up on my notes, now is. Next week is not the perfect time to write my introduction, now is.

Does this mean I will stop periodically checking my various message centers to see if there’s anyone who needs me, in hopes of getting a moment or two of a brain break? By no means. Does this mean that I’m going to stop writing this post now? ….apparently…

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Hints On Being A Holiday Customer

Not much energy to write tonight. It was a long (rough) week at work, and I have stories for at least the next month. To generally summarize what this week has been like though, here are a few free pointers on being a customer:

 

– Don’t throw money on the counter when the cashier is standing right there. Unless, of course, you wouldn’t mind your card/change to be returned to you in the same fashion. It’s just degrading.

– Give workers a chance to go the extra mile. If you walk in, push past them demanding a certain piece of merchandise, and then push past them again to run out when you don’t find what you want, then you might miss them offering to track down the item for you. Just sayin’.

– Please don’t park right next to their main entrance and then carpool with a friend for the rest of the day. Customers still actually in town might like a good parking spot too.

– Ask the person on the other end of the cell phone to wait just 30 seconds while you give and complete your order. Starbucks ordering is complicated when you are fully focused on the task- it’s worse when you are distracted. Ah, I’m going to have to do a whole post on cell phone stories!

 

So that’s about all I have in me tonight. Christmas season is officially here, so run into your local store and see all the great new merchandise! For those of you who loved our Salted Caramel Signature Hot Chocolate last year, here’s a hint: take a look at this year’s three pack of cocoa mix. There has been great joy in my store!

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I’ve Got Plenty To Be Thankful For

Every year, the holiday rush and bustle sweeps everyone along; too often, it’s easy to get so lost in this rush that the thought of others slips our minds.

That’s why this year, a few little acts of kindness have really captured my attention. Listening to KLOVE, I was amazed at the number of people giving money to help other people receive a Thanksgiving dinner. Literally thousands of meals are being provided by the generosity of random strangers.

On my favourite book site, LibraryThing, people are returning a favour done to them last year, and are now providing scholarships to those who cannot afford to pay the fee themselves. For many of these people, they are single parents who are so focused on trying to provide gifts for their children that they have nothing left for themselves. Now, because of random acts of kindness, these deserving people will have a surprise of books waiting for them under the tree on the 25th.

It’s really awesome.

I work in a curious blend of food service and retail. We don’t always get to see the best sides of people. We see people who are desperate for you to get their order right (“Don’t forget my vanilla”, says the perfect stranger.). We see those who want the item they want when they want it (Where are the ornaments? Oh, you only have those? Let me shove past you on my cellphone to run out the door. I don’t want those.).

Yet, every once in a while, we see the generous side of people appear. We see someone pay for the order of the person behind them. Someone treats their friend. A parent and child share a drink and a pastry.

Because, when you strip down the holiday season, it’s really only about one thing: others. Doing whatever you can to reach out to others.

This is not the time for selfishness and self-absorption. This is the time to look around you and find something to be thankful for, and to find someone to bless.

Happy Thanks-giving .

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Hungry and Broken

I haven’t thought of this song in ages. After yesterday’s post I think that it answers just how I have survived the past few years, and how I will continue to thrive. He’s all I need, He’s all we need. I’m not alone in losing my church home- there are countless others in the same place that I am.

We are strangers in a strange land. We know this when we come to the cross. We expect the world to hate us; we expect to fight.

We don’t expect to have to fight our own. We don’t expect to be hated by those who share our beliefs.

We long for fellowship. We long for acceptance. When we can’t find it with fellow believers, it is all the more painful, all the more discouraging.

Yet, be encouraged. In the end, the pain will be worth it all.

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB.


hungry I come to You
for I know You satisfy
I am empty
but I know Your love does not run dry
so I wait for You
so I wait for You

chorus
I’m falling on my knees
offering all of me
Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for

broken I run to You
for Your arms are open wide
I am weary but I know Your touch restores my life
so I’ll wait for You
so I’ll wait for You

I’m falling on my knees
offering all of me
Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for
Oh, I’m falling on my knees
offering all of me
Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for

and I wait for you
and I wait for you
and I wait for you
and I wait

I’m falling on my knees
offering all of me
Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for
Oh, I’m falling on my knees
offering all of me
Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for

hungry I come to you,
for I know You satisfy

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You Can’t Go Home Again

Perhaps a short preface is needed here. I wrote this a few weeks back and posted it on a private forum. I think, though, that it needs to be on this blog- it reflects my heart more accurately than anything else I’ve written on here. Forgive my anger; know that it flows out of a profound sadness. –Miss Woodhouse

Death has a way of bringing people together. This past week a dear older friend of mine passed on suddenly. We weren’t amazingly close, but nonetheless his death threw me into sadness and despondency.

His funeral was held at the church I once called home; the church I belonged to for thirteen years, the church that baptized me, the church that nearly destroyed my relationship with God.

Nearly three years removed from my leaving, I found it interesting that the reasons for my departure at first seemed negligible. I sat in my old pew, looking around at familiar face after familiar face. I decided that the old saying was wrong- you can go home again.

Then the service started. In a curious blend of repulsion and nostalgia, for the next two hours I relived what I loved about my old church and what I hated about it. The music was glorious; the congregation manipulation was not. The eulogies were heartfelt and emotional, honouring of the man who had gone Home all too soon; but the sermon was selfishly centered on another person’s wishes and opinions on life.

Face after face. Person after person. Life after life. People I walked away from when I walked out on the hypocrisy and lies. People- many of whom are growing old. People- many of whom will not live to see another president. People- many of whom will go Home all too soon.

My time with them is brutally ripped away from me. My friend who died, I missed two years of seeing him every week. I missed two years of hearing him sing in the choir. I missed two years of letting him know what a great man I thought he was.

I’ll never get those two years back.

I made my choice. I chose to follow God and His standards, and not the ways of man. I walked away from the church in order to walk into the arms of my Father. Salvation may very well be free, but it will cost everything. It is costing me the chance to glean wisdom from the older generation, the chance to worship in perfect freedom of expression. I am richer in eternity for my position, but I am the poorer here on earth for it.

I miss my home; I miss my family. I miss the joy and love that flows from them into me.

But you can’t go home again.

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Who’ll Get The Tab?

One of the things I enjoy most about my job at the ‘bux is watching people argue over who’s going to pay. Okay, I don’t really enjoy it when it’s the “I don’t want to pay, you never pay, it’s your turn to pay” arguing, but I do enjoy the other kind.

The kind where grown adults are reduced to petty squabbling over who gets to pay for drinks. Really.

It’s generally assumed that women do this the most. They are out with their friend, and both want to pick up the tab to treat the other one to a delicious drink and pastry. Of course, they don’t coordinate ahead of time who is going to do the paying, so I ring up the order, get things straight, and then the fun begins.

Woman A holds out her credit card with the comment “It’s on me.” Woman B pulls back A’s arm, and extends her Starbucks card saying “No, it’s on me.” A reminds B that she paid last time. B informs A that her card is registered so the syrups and soy would be free. A insists that she’d rather pay regardless. B points out to A that the barista (me) is laughing at them, so A should just let B pay. A ignores B and reaches in front of her to extend her card to me once again.

In the end, I’m never sure who actually pays. I just accept the closest form of payment and go from there. It’s pretty fun to watch, though.

A little known fact is that men are just as guilty of doing this. Business men meeting for a coffee and negotiations always feel that they have to play ‘my expense account is bigger than your expense account’. Again, I just take the card nearest to me. Or when buddies come in to chat, and they both shove $20 bills at me (for their $4 tab). “I’ve got it, man.” “No, ‘sokay, I’ve got this covered.” This conversation will take twice as long as the female version, and will include them looking at me uncomfortably as if aware of how juvenile they are acting. In this case, I walk away for a minute or two. When I return, one $20 bill is waiting for me on the counter. It’s beautiful.

The good news is this debate over who will pay generally leads to better tips. Extra money and a free floorshow? Argue away!

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Up Too Early

You know you’re up too early when…

…your dog glares at you, then crawls up to finish sleeping in the warm part of the bed you’ve just vacated.

…no birds are singing.

…even your automatic daily emails haven’t come yet.

…none of your daily bloggers have posted.

…your library system is not yet back online from its nightly maintenance.

…new comics aren’t online yet.

…there is no one you can call or text- at least without creating lifelong enemies!

…the only people active online are Australians. o_O

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The Nature of Human Nature

Human nature. What is it? Is it something that we are born possessing, or is it instilled in us by our environment? If we are born with it, from where does it come? If we acquire it, how do we do so? Where, in short, does human nature begin?

These are deep questions. My personal belief is that we are born with a sinful, errant nature. However, I believe that we are born so because of an act of sin committed over 6,000 years ago in a garden. “Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin” (Romans 5:12, NASB). Our nature, therefore, is to sin and die. From the moment we are born, we are heading towards a determinate death. It’s the only constant in our unsettled lives- death.

In the words of that immortal movie, What About Bob?, “We are going to die. We are all going to die.”

Why then should we struggle to live? Again, I believe our fight for survival is fueled by another innate part of our nature- hope. We may or may not be able to find hope on our own, but that doesn’t negate our longing for it. We try to hope for something better- a better life, a better future, a better ending. When we are at our deepest, darkest moments, we mourn hope’s loss. We say that “hope springs eternal”- but what does it eternally spring toward?

Hope longs for salvation. We ache to be rescued from our sinful lives; we strive to escape the burden of knowing that the paths we walk alone will only lead to death. We hope for a Saviour.

We have such a Saviour.

My verse in Romans does not stop with the condemnation of mankind- it continues on with its explanation. “For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to many… those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (5:15, 17).

We don’t have to die.

Our bodies certainly do have to wear out- they are not meant to last forever. But our souls, the very houses of our nature, they live on. Instead of being condemned to die forever in hell, we have the option for them to live  in glory, forever praising our Saviour  and His death which made it possible.

We have a hope.

This is God’s plan for us. It is not His will that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). However, that one man, that original sin infected our nature, and this keeps us from Him. God’s sacrifice of His Son was not just for show, it was a solution- the ultimate solution to the problem that is human nature (John 3:16). It is the ultimate hope.

Hope is not a word to be bandied about carelessly. It should not be used to promote the plans of the world. It is not audacious. Instead, it is an important part of God’s plan for us to have a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Our hope leads us to search for a better nature. Our search for a better nature leads us to the cross. The cross brings us eternal life.

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It’s the end of the world as we know it…. and I’m not feeling so fine.

This is just because it’s going through my head, which means it must now go through yours as well! Click at your own risk….

For the past year I’ve been studying Revelation in my Precepts class. It’s a dense book, and we still are several months away from being anywhere near finished. Of course, it’s opened up all sorts of debatable subjects and revealed quite a few of the presuppositions we all hold (I mean, is the great city Babylon, Jerusalem, or Rome? That created quite a stir, let me tell you!).

In short, class is never boring.

The past few weeks we have been looking at the Old Testament prophecies of the end. Amazingly enough, some of the things God said 400, 500, and 600 years before Christ’s birth are much more detailed and precise than what is revealed in the book of endings itself. Daniel, for instance is very detailed.

Which got me thinking (dangerous, I know). The basis we are using in Precepts for a lot of our detail work is the statue dream from Daniel 2. I’ll wait here while you look it up.

Got it? Good.

Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan Babylonian king who destroyed Jerusalem in three separate raids taking captive thousands of Israelites, has the dream. It is of a statue; a head of gold, a chest of silver, legs of bronze, and feet of iron mixed with clay. Each area represents a different dominant world power, and a different period of time. The majority of Daniel’s visions all relate in some way to this statue, as do John’s visions in Revelation.

God works in weird ways. I don’t understand why He would choose a pagan king that He just used to destroy His Holy City to have such an important dream, but He did. He really can use anyone for any purpose, and this just amazes me to no end.

As we continue studying, we don’t have all the answers right now and it can be frustrating. However, if God would reveal mysteries through Nebuchadnezzar, then I am sure that He will reveal His truth to me. I just have to be patient and keep searching the Scripture. Now, about all these beasts….

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A Plea

I know that this isn’t exactly a “book blog”, but I did include the word “everything” in my subheading (see above) so please indulge me.

As many of you know, I’m addicted to a great book cataloging site called LibraryThing (see sidebar for a link!). More than just a place to keep a list of my books (815 and counting…), LibraryThing looks at reading trends, the connections between various authors and books, and stays on the cutting edge of cataloging technology. Last night, they rolled out some amazing new features and updates to the site.

LibraryThing, by necessity, uses Amazon as their primary source of information from book cover images to publication information. Additionally, they integrate dozens of other online book-related databases from Abe books to Barnes and Noble. One of the new features they rolled out includes a way to connect automatically from a book page on LibraryThing to a bookstore near you to see right then if the book you want is in stock at that particular store.

Unfortunately, this feature will only serve to bring more business to chain bookstores because indies don’t, as a rule, keep online records of what they have in stock. LibraryThing doesn’t like being forced to show preference to national bookstores- their goal is not to assist chains in burying indies, but at the same time their users would like to be able to know where they can purchase the books in which they are interested.

Personally, I would love it if we still had indie bookstores in our area. A friend used to own an indie, a children’s bookstore somewhat reminiscent of the one in You’ve Got Mail. She stocked a great selection of books, had fun merchandise related to books and stories, and hosted book related events as well. Then, Barnes and Noble and Zainy-Brainy both set up shop within a block of her store. As cute as her place was, she couldn’t compete with the bargain prices of these two chains, or their high-profile customer draw. Within a very short period of time, her little shop closed its doors forever.

I don’t want this to keep happening to indie bookstores around the country. So, at the request of Tim (founder of LibraryThing and seemingly a really neat and scarily over-educated guy), please help me spread the word to encourage indies to create an online, accessible inventory. Technology drives the world- it’s sad, but very true. The idea of going digital might well be distasteful, but it can’t be as horrible a fate as having to close your doors.

So, if by any chance some indie bookstore owners/employees run across this (or if any of you readers frequent an indie store), please be encouraged to check out the links at the bottom and take appropriate action. Enough customers out there are disillusioned with chain bookstores that they would come to you if they could know that it would be worth their time.

Thanks for your indulgence. I just want to do whatever little thing I can to keep those little indie shops open. Happy Reading!

Links:

Blog post about what’s going on and what to do about it.

Request from Tim to help spread the word.

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