4.17.2014

Life

Sometimes there just are no words to explain the things that God walks you through. Right now, He's tightly holding our hands even as He pushes us far beyond the boundary of our comfort zone. So many days, I look at my husband and say, "What are we doing? Are we nuts?" 

To the world looking in, we probably do look like we've lost our senses. But each and every day I chose to trust that the God who is writing this crazy chapter of our life knows -- far better than we do -- exactly what we need, and what we need to learn. Most of the time I walk around in a state of silent, continual prayer. When the future gets too overwhelming, I take a deep breath and remember: He is writing our story

In many ways, it feel as though we're at a crossroads, much like the early Church on Good Friday. On Friday evening, Jesus was dead, His mother was weeping, and His disciples scattered. Fear and uncertainly were rampant among those who had followed Him, and I'm sure there were many who were wondering how they could have been so misled. But Friday is not the end of the story

The world of the Apostles was turned upside down in a matter of hours. Although they spent three years with Jesus, they still did not know Him. They were blind to the wisdom He shared in parables, missing the point and focusing on the kingdoms of earth. You know what? I can identify with them. Sometimes I am so focused on the uncertainties and the what ifs that I overlook the big picture. I can only see the "Friday" of my story. 

When my world is shaky, I cling to one truth above all else: that the God who gave His Son, the Son who died for my sins, and the Holy Spirit who provides conviction and guidance in this earthly sojourn - this God will never leave me. He will never abandon me on this road, nor forget me in this story He is writing. 

Do you want to know something exciting? God is writing your story too. And it's not going to look anything like mine, but it will be beautiful, if only you will trust Him, obeying when He calls you, following where He leads. It may feel like Friday... but praise the Lord, Sunday is coming!


He has Risen, Indeed!

4.11.2014

Dear Fellow #Bookworms...

The picture below is of my stack of books that are either currently in process or waiting to be read. They are sitting atop my nightstand which is filled with more books in waiting. Don't preach to me about the beauty of using the library - books are my Achilles heel. Someone, please tell me I am not alone! Why only yesterday I had to tell myself NO! when I went to Amazon in search of this book, because enough is enough... for now.


Happy Friday!

3.25.2014

Things That Make Me Smile

Even though you don't know details (I explained that yesterday), let's just say that for the last few weeks, I would rather have been somewhere else. But I'm not there... I'm here. And life must go on, and bills must be paid, and work must be done, and all in all there are greater things in life to worry about. But even in the midst of all the distractions and family upheaval and shock over me "unplugging" for so long from Facebook (who knew THAT could cause issues?), I've found things to make me smile. Want to know what they are?

Yesterday, I sliced open a digit with a very sharp bread knife... but even as I was compressing my finger with a paper towel and hurrying from the kitchen, I felt a smile spread across my face as I remembered that I now had Jane Austen band-aids. And that made everything better. (Psst... jealous? They're available at Amazon.)


And then there was the fact that my husband pointed me towards TuneIn, which I've been playing the life out of Paris CafĂ© on JazzRadio.com. It's not all accordion playing (though the rendition of "I Did It My Way" on accordion made me snort), it's just nice coffee-house music, occasionally with people singing songs in French (which I can't understand, but it doesn't mean I don't like them). Oh, and it's FREE. {Happy Dance

And my blog post was shared yesterday. And kind words were said. And at the end of the day, let's just be honest, it's really nice when other people promote your stuff instead of you saying over and over, "read my post, visit my blog, I'm not crazy!" What? You don't do that? Oh, never mind. Well, because I'm grateful for those who promoted me, let me encourage you to follow The Strategic Learner on Facebook (especially if you are interested in leadership blogs and articles), and add @CBechervaise to your Twitter lists.

I started reading a book back in February and finally finished it earlier this month. It didn't take that long because it failed to hold my attention, rather that I kept getting busy with other things. Anyway, if you're interested in art or history or art history, The Monuments Men is a MUST READ, and is a definite page turner. I haven't seen the movie (when it comes to Redbox and I can rent it for $1, I might consider it), but you'll want to buy the book before they change the cover to some image of George Clooney rather than the real Monuments Men heros of WWII. 

And... snails. They make me happy. Even happier? Snails in mushroom caps, slathered in melted butter and garlic. Happiest? A husband who loves to cook and isn't afraid of trying more exotic cooking in our very own little kitchen. Now that's a continual staycation with style! 

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What's making YOU happy?

3.24.2014

The #Introvert Shell

Most people who know me offline scoff when I describe myself as an introvert. I can be jovial and outgoing, speaking in front of an audience (which has gotten easier, but is not easy), not caring what people think about my clothes or if I look foolish singing "In Your Easter Bonnet" for the amusement of my co-workers. I am me, and I am an introvert.

Accepting who I am involves knowing my own limitations. I know that being with people wears me out and causes stress. I know that after I have been with people, I like to spend time alone or with my husband - a fellow introvert - to recharge. I know that I am happiest on days when the phone never rings and I don't have to leave the house. I know that if called upon to be outgoing, I have the capacity to do so, but not for an extended period of time.

When people get to know you online, they see one side of you - the side that you allow them to see. Your Facebook "friends" and Twitter followers see the happy pictures, family updates, political rants, and relationship changes. Although I do my best to be authentic online, it's just not possible for you to genuinely know me because, as an introvert, I value privacy and there is much that I don't tell you.

Genuine friendship, no matter what others may say, is pretty rare, and there are very few people in my "Inklings" circle. One of the reasons I married my husband is because he saw me - not the me of his own creation, but the me of reality. Our relationship is best summed up by this quote from The Four Loves: "Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: 'What! You too? I thought that no one but myself...'" Together, we have broken most of the molds that our families, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and complete strangers have attempted to smash us into.

One of the myriad of reasons I unplug is because I become overwhelmed by the over-sharing that takes place on blogs and social media (says the hypocrite who is blogging about this). There are areas of my life that are just too important and personal to share. A like, a retweet, a +1 - those do not fill the inherent need for genuine philia love - caring enough about the person to invest real time offline.

Over the last year, I have attempted to broaden my circle by opening up to others - sharing concerns and personal battles. It hasn't been easy, but I thought it was important. As it turns out, I share just enough to appear flippant, when in fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. I'm an INTJ who is married to an INTJ. We reason and think (possibly over-think) through everything; no decision made lightly or without a lot of discussion, planning, and prayer. Ironically, those who only hear part of the story (and have not been privy to our process of getting there) quite often mistake our "quick" choices as thoughtless ones.

Each time a concerned individual reaches out to make sure we've considered all the angles (no matter what the decision), I am reminded of why, for more than 31 years of my life, I chose to keep my circle small. Even though I appreciate those who express concern because they want the best for us, filling in all the details can be very draining for an introvert, and I shut down again. If you need me, I'll be in my shell. It's nice and quiet in here.


Ever wondered how to deal with an introvert? Read this. My husband says they nailed me.

3.06.2014

It's ALL About #CustomerService

I sometimes feel like the old adage, "the customer is always right" is no longer recognized or practiced. It often seems like companies - or their representatives - look at customers as being a given. Like we owe them our hard earned cash and unfailing loyalty, simply because they exist. One of the things I missed the most while living overseas was the customer service of the U.S., and yet when we returned we were appalled at the change in attitude (Verizon comes to mind...). It was disheartening.

I know there will always be rude customers, the ones you would rather punch out than help - I've worked retail. However in business, as in life, I have found that if you treat people like human beings and acknowledge their frustrations, much of the animosity will dissipate and solutions can be found. Although you might not be able to make it perfect, you can drastically reduce the tension by being proactive and acknowledging that there was an issue (whether real or imagined), the complaint has been heard, and a solution will be found.

While there's always a better way to deal with frustrated customers, what's the best way to handle customer service? Well, in my opinion - as a customer - it is to take a pro-active approach and leave the customer impressed before an issue ever surfaces. Go above and beyond - not to try to pacify an angry individual, but to WOW someone who's still weighing whether they will become a regular user of your product or service.

Unfortunately, there are few companies that take such an approach. In years past, I have become loyal to those who have shown that kind of initiative, like L.L.Bean (my call is picked up on the first ring - recognizing that my time is important) and Chick-fil-A (hiring friendly people and providing clean restrooms - both appreciated when traveling!). However, what prompted this post was an email I found in my inbox early this morning...
Dear Carrie,
We’ve got a surprise for you—your order has shipped! We’ve also included your tracking info, so you can track your order to its final destination.
Shipping Method: 2-Business Day Shipping
XOXO,
Zappos.com
After realizing that all the shoes I owned were fine for sitting at a desk, but killer to the toes if one needed to walk more than a few yards at a time, I decided to go for quality over quantity and invest in some classically styled shoes that wouldn't make me cringe if I needed to take a hike on the pavement. I'd heard a lot of good things about Zappos, including their free shipping - both ways, so I decided to look there first.

My selection of shoes arrived yesterday, and unfortunately all three pairs that I tried were a half-size too small. However, while disappointed, I didn't fret because I knew I could return them up to a year after purchased and for free. I set up my return, then reordered larger sizes and a different style, choosing the free shipping option (5-7 business days). I exchanged a couple of Tweets with Zappos in the afternoon (not about shipping), and this morning I was surprised to discover that they upgraded my order to 2-Business Day Shipping at no additional cost!

Now, I don't know if the shoes that are coming will fit, but I do know that Zappos, by being proactive in their customer service and surprising the heck out of me, has just earned a spot on my list with L.L.Bean and Chick-fil-A. And a blog post - because I'm totally impressed, and that's not easy to do. Well done, Zappos team. Well done.


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