Know Your Worth

I’m a big girl. I’ve been a big girl all my life. Looking back at pictures of me when I was young, it’s clear to see that I actually an average-size kid. Yet, I have no memory of a time when I didn’t feel fat. 

Even my name, Vikki – that’s a fat girl’s name. 

This mentality caused me to equate my worth with my weight. I was fat ergo I didn’t deserve to be loved. This idea was accompanied by feelings of low self-esteem and approval addiction. 

Imagine a time when losing weight suddenly began garnishing the attention of opposite sex. Yes, I made the prime mistake most girls like me make. I clung to the first guy who showed interest, the first chance to not be alone. I dumped all my self-worth at his doorstep, asking him to define me. 

End result was a 10 year long marriage in which I was emotionally and verbally abused. 

Its been 11 years since my divorce, and I’m now physically a big girl. However, mentally, I’m not. I’m also not ugly because I’m big. I’m not worthless because I’m big. I’m not without love and affection because I’m big. And I deserve a loving relationship, even now as a big girl. 

So, to all you who, like me, are big girls – whether you ever shed the pounds or not – know your worth now. Determine now that you deserve love, approval, affection and the attention of the opposite sex. Don’t wait and don’t allow anyone else to speak that into your life. 

In the end, your true worth is in the eyes of a most high God, who died just for you because He determined you’re worth it. 

God is My Husband

WOW! I cannot believe it’s been over a month since my last post. SO MUCH has happened in the last month and continues to happen.

So, let’s see. Since April 21, here’s a list of going-ons in my life:

  1. My daughter was officially accepted to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the process has begun to get her enrolled and situated.
  2. Aforementioned daughter graduated high school.
  3. I spent a glorious week visiting my sister and her family in Tennessee (separate blog post about that to follow.)
  4. I spent Mother’s Day in the hospital for high stress and anxiety. Not fun!
  5. I went to Bookcon with my younger daughter. GREAT FUN!!
  6. I got a ton of ideas for books to write as well as to read.
  7. My promotion at work went into effect so I’ve been getting acclimated to my new role and my new team which is going so much better than I anticipated.

Yeah. Life has been busy, to say the least.

One thing I’ve started doing (and I hinted at it in my last post) is leaning on God as a husband. As I’ve been meditating on my relationship with God, I realize that God as my Father sometimes causes me to take Him for granted – sorta like I do with my own Dad. I know my dad is there but I hate talking on the phone (since I do it all day long at work) so I sort of neglect the communication part of my relationship with him. Even though I consider us to be close. I it with a lot of people in my family and no matter how much I try to fix it, I fail at keeping in touch.

(By the way – as I write this, there’s a brilliant sun shower going on outside my widow. But I digress.)

God started to deal with me on lack of communication with Him. In doing so, He highlighted the fact that He desires to be so much more to me than I could ever dream. He is my Father but He’s also my Husband.

Yes, you heard me right. Husband.

Isaiah 54:5 says, “For your Maker is your Husband, the Lord of Hosts is His name; and the Holy One of Israel is your redeemer, the God of the whole earth.” In the midst of recovering from an anxiety attack that had sent me to the hospital, God began to minister to me to come to Him now, not as a daughter but as a wife would go to her husband and seek help. If I were married to a Godly man, I wouldn’t be bearing the burdens I bear alone. Sure, I know I have very supportive family but I also have had the burdens, stresses, ups and down, joys and heartaches of being a single mom and primary source of provision for my family.

Since then, every time anxiety or stress has tried to come against me, I’ve taken it to my Husband. Financial stress – I talk to my Husband. Depression – I talk to my Husband. Fear – I talk to my Husband. Need advice – I talk to my Husband. Not only has my faith been increasing but my relationship with God has been increasing. Old mindsets that have existed for 47 years have finally begun to melt away. I have time with my Husband each morning and I talk to Him about my day as I drive home each night. He’s the first in my thoughts when I wake up and the last thought I have before drifting off to sleep.

The fog and mental anguish of anxiety and stress have begun to dissipate. My heart feels lighter. I’m making better decisions. I’ve even received some financial blessings. And at the heart of all of it is my Husband, God and His precious Word which I speak every morning over myself and my family.

One tool I use (because I’m very instructional and need to have a blueprint always to follow) is Pastor Greg Dickow’s (of Life Changers International Church ) personal daily confession. I say it every morning. I also printed up the Victory Over Fear and Freedom of the Mind Bible verses and I say those daily. The Word has become alive. I’m seeing God move in my life.

Isaiah 62:3-5 says, “You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.”

I thank God every day that He is my Husband who rejoices over me!

God is Good. All the Time.

Pull up a cup of coffee or tea and let’s sit awhile. Time for a wee heart to heart and I want everyone to be comfortable.

We’re going to talk about money.

*insert groan here*

A couple weeks ago, in my church women’s group, we were talking about areas of our heart where we’re having trouble submitting to God. The first thing that sprang to my mind was money.

I’m going to take you back to the beginning of this year where I found a church home and made a commitment to it. It wasn’t long before God started to talk to my heart about tithing.

“Oh no!” I cried out, “I can’t. My mom (who handles our household finances) wouldn’t agree and I just…can’t, God.”

Of course, God, being a gentle and good Father, said, “Let’s take your faith one step at a time. Commit to what you have faith for.” I thought up an amount and felt an agreement with God in my heart. Luckily, my church has a wonderful app that allows me to set up automatic giving. It comes right out of my pay whenever I get paid and I don’t even have to think about it. I had reservations about what my mom might think but she’s said nothing. I take it as a sign of respecting my decision.

Since then, I’ve gotten a raise AND a promotion! The raise I knew was coming because I’d been working hard; the promotion took me totally by surprise.

Yet still, anytime my mom would start to talk with me about our household finances, I would clench up. I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to talk about it.

Recently, as I’ve been drawing nearer to God and really seeking him as a wife would seek her husband (come back next week to hear about that!), God has dealt with me. Any blow up towards my mother over money was nothing short than a lack of faith, which God told me was a sin. Why a sin? Because lack of faith means I’m putting my trust in worry and anxiety and lack.

Yesterday, I had some awesome time with Jesus and He impressed on me once again to stand in faith where money is concerned. He said:

“Are you a daughter of the king?”

“Yes,” I replied, shocked that He would ask me such a question.

“And what kind of king is your father?” He asked, sternly.

“The King of Kings and Lord of Lords is my father,” I replied again.

“Then you’re a Heavenly princess, are you not?”

“Why, yes,” I said, thoughtfully. “I am.”

“Good, because daughters of kings don’t ever worry about money,” He instructed. “Therefore, the daughter of the Most High King of the Universe should not worry about money.”

I cried in joy as this quickly and finally became heart knowledge! But the enemy was quick to put this to test. A mishap in our finances happened. However, for the first time instead of panicking, I had perfect peace. I knew my mother was upset and afraid to talk with me about it so I began to pray for her peace. And then, as a wife goes to her husband, I went to Jesus and asked Him to take care of it.

I quickly received two emails from my mom saying both situations had been taken care of. PRAISE GOD! And even better, I had a short conversation with my mom telling her when I come back from a much-needed visit with my sister, we’re both going to start managing our finances together. No more fear. No more worry. No more putting it all on her.

I also found out that my older daughter got accepted to a University (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, to be exact!) and again, I have perfect peace over how that will be paid for, even though I don’t see how and I don’t have the money. I’m choosing to walk in faith. After all, princesses always have everything they need.

Yet even as I write that, God is commenting here: Princesses don’t just always have their needs met, they have their wants met, too!

So, I encourage you today. Don’t be afraid. Even if all you have is $5 faith, it’s enough! If all you have is stone faith, then keep giving stones until you have a foundation. Increase your faith to brick faith. Then keep giving bricks until your house of faith is built. Finally, “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and THEN all THINGS (did you get that – God wants us to have THINGS) will be given (freely) to you” (Matthew 6:33). With those things, decorate your house.

Glory to God!

The Well-Done Child

Several years ago, when Shelby was in third grade, I stood in line waiting to speak with her teacher after a class presentation. The guy in front of me had a son who was getting all straight A’s, as he loudly told me and everyone else in the room. He then directed his conversation to the teacher explained that the homework given his son was decidedly not enough to keep him motivated and he was looking for extra work to give to him. I’ll never forget the look on his little boy’s face as the message registered loud and clear: “I’m just not good enough.” The more I watched the boys’ face, the more lines I began to see etching themselves in his face with worry, anxiety and defeat.

I’ve been helping Shelby study to Algebra to retake her ACT test causing me to revisit this memory. It got me thinking: Are we over-motivating our kids?

In this day and age, I’ve noticed algebra is being introduced as early as 4th and 5th grade and by 8th grade, kids are expected to be able to present complicated, computer-generated presentations in their classes. Teachers are expected to rush kids through concepts with the sole intent of getting to the next concept. This is particularly difficult in a subject like grammar or math where the two subjects which build upon themselves. One cannot go the next level without understanding the current level. Yet there is no time to drill the current level, like there was in my day.

In my day, and I realize I’m going back about 25 years, concepts were drilled and then drilled again. Reading wasn’t a guessing game – it was introduced with phonics and grammar rules and then built upon into sentences and paragraph structure. Math facts were drilled and memorized as they were recited daily.

You see, we’re so into ‘higher-education’ that we’re no longer educating. We’re just feeding expectation. The expectation on a child is to learn yet the concepts are taught so fast, they simply cannot. The expectation on a teacher is to teach yet they cannot teach properly because of expectations being put on them. We’ve created this high stress atmosphere, no longer concerning ourselves with the character of the child but moreover the intelligence and the achievement of the child.

How do I know this is true? Easy. I’ve got 12 years of experience sitting in parent-teacher conferences and IEP meetings not hearing a thing about my kid except where they are the educational map compared to other kids on the same map. I’ve listened to teachers and educators whittle away at my kids until it’s clear they know nothing about my child at all. I’ve had graphs and diagrams handed to me showing my daughter represented by a dot or a line.

That’s what we’ve turned our kids into – mere dots and lines on a graph. They are no longer human. They are no longer individuals. They’ve been given the clear message that their goal is to be comparable to every other child around them, first in their school, then in their neighborhood, then city and so on. Their individuality – who they are as a person – doesn’t matter because it cannot be measured. It cannot be graphed.

Here’s a rule I’ve set in my home. My daughter, Shelby, has been in special ed since 3rd grade. She has an incredible work ethic and always strives to do her best. Yet her best often is a C average. My other daughter, Emilie, has been diagnosed with ADHD. She’s a super-intellect. However, her brain moves so fast she often misses key information and needs to have things repeated. Her frustration levels have been at all time high causing her anxiety while she also holds a solid C average. This is their best work. And guess what? There are no awards given to kids like these! There are no acknowledgments given even to those in special education programs!

So, the rule in our home is simply this: Did you do your best? Are you proud of your work? If the answer to those is yes, then I’m good. I refuse to over-motivate my kids. I refuse to exhort them to be what they clearly are not ready to be. I refuse to stress them out with the concept of ‘more, more, more’ and I refuse to miss out on precious time with them in an effort to create over-achievers. They are decent, respectful, kind and generous. They’ve already over-achieved as human beings.

This Friday, Shelby will take a test she thinks will determine her future. I cannot convince her enough that if she fails, community college is still a seriously good option. But if she fails, I know it won’t be the last time because life is full of failures. Sometimes, we learn more when we fail. If she succeeds, then I will be sending her off on her next adventure.

This December, Emilie will complete her high school requirements early. Her goal right now is get started with her life. College is not in her immediate future. I haven’t decided if it’s a good decision or not but it’s her decision and whether she succeeds or fails, she’ll still gain some useful life lessons. She’s already taking the heat from teachers and classmates over the failure she’s facing simply because she chooses not to go to college.

Where I sit, Shelby can come through college with nothing but college debt and Emilie may find herself the job of her dreams holding far greater fulfilment and opportunities than if she had gone to college.

Or…..

Shelby may decide college isn’t for her, return home and work towards her future and Emilie may find she’d like to go to college after all.

Either way, I’m proud of myself for not “overdoing” my kids. Kids that are well-done are just that…well done!

“Don’t Be A Spiritual Siri”

The title of this post is actually a quote from my pastor, Pastor Mark Carter of Torch of Faith Church. He preached on being a spiritual parent and during his sermon, he made this statement, “Be a spiritual parent; don’t be a spiritual siri”.

As human beings, we always seem to be looking for answers to what we call “the great questions” – such as why are we here, what is our purpose and where are we going. Obviously, most Christians know the answers to all of these are in the Bible. Yet in today’s high-tech world where the inventory of vast knowledge is at our fingertips, it’s become far too fashionable to simply ask Siri.

I actually love technology. It’s a habit passed on to my by my father, who even at the tender age of 82 is still a technology geek in search of the next best thing. However, technology only goes so far when spirituality comes into play.

For example, last week, I spoke about being a Martha when I need to be a Mary (I’m still working on that, by the way). I’m blessed enough to have a sister who decided to be a spiritual parent and lovingly told me basically to stop focusing on what’s going around me and start focusing on Jesus. I’m grateful for her.

Had I told my cellphone I was struggling, I doubt I would have received the same answer. And incidentally, since giving it all over to Jesus, I’ve been twice blessed. I’ll reveal more on that later when I can.

Years ago, God placed a beautiful woman of God in my life who said, “I’m not about spiritual platitudes.” She went on to explain that a spiritual platitude is something we Christians say in order to try to make others feel good in the midst of their trial. We say it to make them feel better but really it’s to excuse us from having to actually help them or deal with them at their level. Why do we do this? Because we’re uncomfortable.

I’ve actually come to enjoy when people are silent after I tell them I’m struggling with something. I prefer that over the perfunctory “We’re praying ya, sister” (I hate being called “sister”). As a parent, I truly believe there are times to be silent when my girls talk. Sometimes, people just need to vent to release emotion but not necessarily need you to fix it.

Last month, my girls and I were having a conversation where Shelby told me she feels like a failure because all her friends are getting into the colleges of their choice and she’s not. I sprang into Mom-action. “You’re not a failure!” I exclaimed in her face. I could see my words didn’t register with her at all. My belief about herself in that moment remained unchanged. I gave her a “platitude” when she needed my silence (and my shoulder to cry on).

During my own divorce ten years ago, I remember well-meaning people telling me just to keep praying and confessing over my husband’s life and he’ll come around. It was a clear message to me that they weren’t interested in listening to me or dealing with me at all because they always overlooked the part where I said he had moved on to someone else.

So, today’s message was timely for me on a very personal level. Timely because I have a 17 year old who believes and looks up to me to be her spiritual parent as well as her earthly parent, and because I’m now in the position once again of having to carefully live my faith to my 18 year old who has decided not to believe in God in all. Yet, I’m the only person in her life she will listen to talk about God. Everyone else, she tunes out.

One important part of the message was to be a spiritual parent means you should have spiritual parents, or people who feed on a Godly level, into your life. Batteries always need recharging and it’s far too easy to get caught up in making other people’s lives work while you’re own is falling apart. As my pastor preaches to us, I have assurance of others preaching to him and the added knowledge that he listens.

I thank God for this message today as I start a journey in my life (which I will tell you more later as I am able). I’m grateful for my new church family; I’m grateful for my own family where I’m blessed with siblings who are my very best friends and I’m grateful for children who not only gleen from my spiritual parenting but keep me at the feet of God who is the ultimate Spiritual Parent.

 

 

 

 

 

Are You a Mary or a Martha?

Have you ever had a moment where you feel the walls of your life closing on you inch by inch? Sleepless nights. Uncontrollable crying. Exhaustion. Sickness. Worry. Fear. Each one throws a punch as you go down time after time after time.

I’ve had one of those weeks. It seems like those moments occur whenever I have a big event coming up (such as vacation and my daughter’s high school graduation) or during any holiday season (like Easter or Christmas). I can never explain why but, as much as I look forward to these events, they seem to bury me.

I was in the middle of explaining this to my sisters when my one sister said, “Be a Mary, not a Martha.  Keep tunnel vision only on Him; don’t look around at everything else going on, at what others have, etc.  He has you, He has your children, and He will never forsake you.  And go to Him, speak plainly, talk, yell, or whatever you feel as you talk to Him.  He’s your Daddy, and wants that.”

It’s been a while since I’ve looked at the scripture concerning this. Luke 10:38-42 talks about a visit Jesus made to two sisters, Mary and Martha. According to the amplified version, Mary placed herself at Jesus’ feet and “continuously” listened to Him as He spoke. Martha, busy and distracted, complained about Mary not helping. Jesus replies by telling her she is “bothered” and “anxious” by the things of life when really only one thing matters. It would seem Mary had discovered what that one thing was the second He arrived. Martha was too distracted to notice. She was so busy, she missed the fact that Jesus had come to her home. Can you imagine! Being so distracted you miss JESUS?! Jesus called her not only distracted but anxious.

I confess far too many times to falling into the Martha category. As a single mom, I live my life riding the fence between father and mother often wearing the hats of parent, priest, protector and provider. The latter takes up most of my time and a huge amount of my energy but it’s necessary to survive in this life.

I also struggle with anxiety and it’s usually about everything I’m lacking. Like financial security and peace and all the things I want to provide to my children and mother and family who’ve given me so much. I can never repay any of it. In trying to, I’ve made myself into a Martha. I find myself many times far too distracted and far too anxious to notice Jesus. So you can imagine how direct my sister’s words were. Jesus used her to let me know I need to stop and focus on Him. Have “tunnel vision for Jesus”, she said.

I’ve marinated on this email a bit, trying to overcome the feeling of being overwhelmed (and God ministered to me concerning that, also, when a co-worker said to me, “I choose not to be overwhelmed. I make that choice not to let life sink me.”). During my prayer time, which really was more me just having a good old-fashioned girl cry and sputtering to Jesus in between my blubbering, I got the feeling God wanted me to remember what I’m worth and who I am and how I’m perceived by those who love me.

The first and more important thing He wants me to remember that I’m worth dying for. That’s how much He loves me. He died for me.

The next is how much I’ve accomplished and how blessed I truly am! I’ve raised two children on my own. I’ve provided for them without welfare or public aid. They love me without reserve and the three of us have formed a tight family unit. I no longer have to provide “things” for them because they’re of the age where they can start earning for themselves. And it’s ok to tell them that.

I’ve provided a home for my mother, who is my hero. Of course, she provided the bones (aka the down payment, financing, etc) but it’s me who contributes to the walls, the paint and décor. She’s also reminded me that she’s blessed living with her children and grandchildren when so many of her generation are long-forgotten and in a home somewhere. No, we don’t spend a huge amount of time together but she’s home and that’s right where she wants to be.

I have sisters and family who are my best friends and who love me, not because they have to, but because they want to. I’m smart, hard-working, sometimes funny, and compassionate. I truly lack nothing. So why be a Martha when I have every reason to be a Mary? It’s because of the storms. Those little (and sometimes not-so-little) zingers life decides to throw at you.

Interestingly enough, as I write this, a storm is passing over. And as it does, God is reminding me once again that storms come but then they go. When they are done, the earth is washed new, the sun comes out to play again, the air is fresh and clean and life goes on. Psalm 30:5 says “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.”

The second part of her email was this: “There are many things about your life that you want to change , and that’s a good thing. That’s the Lord to continue to grow in the purpose of your life.  But I also know that you are aware of the beautiful things about your life and all that you have already.  Rejoice in those things and continually thank Him for all He has done, all that the Blood already purchased for you and is bringing to your life.”

I’m going to work on not being a Martha now. When you next find me, I will be at Jesus’ feet ?continually listening to His teachings”.

C is for Conversation

Can we talk?

The last few posts have felt like just slapping words on a page. While there are seasons of inspiration, there are also seasons of silence and, last week, I was the latter.

Life has been and continues to be busy. Yet, I thought I’d take a moment to get a little personal about just a few of the triumphs and challenges that have been going on in my little life.

Triumph #1 is the biggest and that is my new church. Last Fall, Emilie and I started attending Faith Community Church here in Grayslake. At that time, the church was trying to decide if it should merge with its sister church, Torch Church. Well, they did and several weeks ago, after a few absent Sundays, Em and I started attending the new Torch of Faith Church. Our first service as a combined church was magical! So electrifying and I haven’t this excited about being a part of a church body in over ten years. We dove in and joined a small women’s group and just love it. It feels like home. I haven’t felt that home church feeling in so long and – can I tell you – it feels SO GOOD!! I love it!

Challenge #1 is Shelby refuses to go. She’s decided to be atheist. I cannot tell  you the pain that rips my heart apart. This liberal world, so tolerant, so nonchalant about the things of God and how much danger our younger generations are in if we do not stay on our knees. This is war, people! But then, I feel like I only have myself to blame. I was the inconsistent one. I was the one who wanted to be the cool mom rather that the mom who said no. I was more afraid of pushing her away from me that I wound up pushing her away from God. I expressed this to Emilie last night as we were on our way home from our women’s group. I said, “I feel like I’m leaving Shelby behind somehow.” Emilie, in her 17 year old Godly wisdom replied very quietly, “It’s her choice. We’ll just keep praying for her.” That’s me. Switzerland. I have one conservation child who wants nothing more than to live her life for the glory of God and one child who chooses not to even believe.

And by the way, parents, let’s just get this little pet peeve of mine out of the way. I love my Catholic upbringing. It’s the faith that embraced me and my girls after my divorce. So don’t misunderstand what I’m about say but if your Catholic (or insert any other organized religion here) teen says, “I want to go to a church where I can really learn about God”, please don’t act like they’ve just fallen on your best suit. Your teen can be doing a whole lot worse!!! Get them to a church where they can grow! And please DO NOT be lazy about it!

Ok, now, where were we?

Triumph #2 is the Skecher triumph. I finally broke down and treated myself to not just one, but TWO pairs of Skecher walking shoes. They are magic on my feet!!!! I love to walk in them. Well worth the money!

Challenge #2 is still trying to find time to get out and actually walk! But I will do it! I’m not discouraged.

Triumph #3 is work. I went up for a promotion that didn’t turn out the way I wanted it however, another door opened. I interviewed yesterday morning and remain hopeful.

Challenge #3 is trying not to get overwhelmed with the Easter holiday. Ever holiday, I struggle with stuff to do, places to go and high stress levels. Why? I have no clue!! However, this is the busiest Spring season I’ve had in years so…..

Triumph #4 is Shelby getting approved for her testing accommodations so she can retake her ACT with the hopes of getting into University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. We had to cut through some red tape but she’s all scheduled to ready to go. Hopefully, this will result in acceptance into the college.

Challenge #4 is letting go and understanding that acceptance into the college means my first baby will be leaving home. I’ll just leave that thought there for right now.

Triumph #5 is the busy aforementioned Spring season. It will be full of craft fairs, a high school graduation, a graduation party, a book convention, a trip to Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Gardens. AND in the middle of all that will be my first vacation in 2 years to Tennessee to see my sister and her family. Thirty-one days and counting.

Challenge #5 is I just remembered that I have yet to get Shelby’s graduation pictures done. The time just FLEW! UGH!

The biggest triumph of all is God is still good, still on the throne and His mercies are new every morning. No matter what challenges I face, I don’t face them alone.

Thank God!

 

 

 

 

The Foundation Drop Cookies is a recipe that’s been in my family all my life. The recipe came from a recipe book my mother received as a wedding shower gift more than 50 years ago.

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This recipe is the only one we’ve ever used. Because of this, the book automatically opens up to the page the recipe is on.

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We’ve made a few changes over the years however the basics have remained intact.

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These little cookies (some have called them tea cakes) are great with coffee or tea and can be made a variety of different ways. For me, I still am a fan of the original.

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I love traditions that are handed down. Things inherited. I love them because they’re full of memory and they’re free. Much like the gifts God gives us, like eternal life, His love, His wisdom, His healing and so much more. We didn’t work to get them; they’re free gifts and part of our inheritance as God’s children. Jesus died so we can have these things. Our job is to believe and receive, just as we would an inheritance. You don’t work for an inheritance, do you? Of course not! It’s free!!

Like this recipe. I didn’t do anything to deserve this. I was born to my mother who freely passed this book and recipe to me. It’s a free gift! All I did was accept it and pass it to my children.

What recipes or traditions does your family have?

C is for Customer Service

….which is something I did not get last night at a local chain restaurant.

I’ve worked in customer service in one capacity or another since I was 16 years old. As I’m now 47, that gives me 31 years of experience.

Last night, I took my family out to a local pie restaurant. They give free pie slices with every meal on Wednesday nights and, as my girls and I love pie and want to marry it, we decided to head out tonight for a treat.
What we received was the worst service I’ve had in years. Now, before I start listing all that went wrong, let me say this: I’ve been a “waitress” (back in the day when we were called waitresses and waiters and not servers). My mother was a waitress. As I said before, since then, I’ve made my living in customer service so I know my subject well. I also am a huge advocate for tipping your server. Poor service gets 10%, average service gets 15% and above average gets 20%. It’s a code I live by and have ever since I waited tables. In my whole life, I’ve never tipped below 15% and I’ve never not tipped.
However, I’ve also recently undergone some serious customer service training and have become a PhonePro trainer (look it up – the company is called Bonfire and they’re amazing!) so my customer service feelers were way up tonight. There were several key mistakes made with little to no offer of reclamation until the very end.
So, let’s count them, shall we?
1. It started with a ticket that we were initially told “got lost”. We were only given this explanation after we had waited an hour for our food. From the time we ordered to the time we started to get heated about still being hungry, no attention was paid to us at all. During that time, we watched others who were seated after us get their food in addition to watching three episodes of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on their TV. 
2. Finally, our server admitted that it was not the kitchen’s fault but her fault why we still didn’t have our food. She forgot to put our ticket in. Now, as much as I commend her for her honesty, unfortunately, an admission of what you did wrong without an offer to make it right still equals unhappy customers (and hungry ones, too, as we realized we were basically put back to square one in waiting for our food).
2. She kept coming over to us to say she’s sorry and it’s her fault. Again, I commend her honesty but by this time, we didn’t want her apologies. We wanted food.
3. She offered us soup while we waited. Nice to offer however, the word “free” never came out of her mouth which means I, as an already unhappy customer, am now put in the uncomfortable position of having to ask if there will be a charge for soup that I don’t really want.  If it’s to try to keep my calm, it didn’t work. It just lent itself to an already heated situation. As it was, my mother had to demand the server bring her juice and quick as my mom is a diabetic and it was past her dinner time.
4. She offered to get us a (meaning ONE) free slice of pie. Um…memo to her: it’s FREE PIE WEDNESDAY so FREE pie automatically comes with my meal. You’re not offering me anything of value.
5. She never ever let the manager know there was a problem. Thirty years in customer service has taught me this: if you feel your customer is at their breaking point, you should ALWAYS let your manager know. This makes them aware and puts them in problem-solving mode so that should the issue be escalated, they’re prepared.
6. When the meal did come, mine was wrong. I ordered a fish dinner with potato pancakes with sour cream and apple sauce. No sour cream. No applesauce. She served it with butter. By this time, I could already tell she had shut us down and was finished with us. Our plates look like they were just thrown together – like no one really cared. Then, while apologizing AGAIN, she commented on how hectic it was. We started to count the number of empty tables around us before she finished her statement. Again, another customer service rule is to always make your customer feel good and smart even when things are going wrong. I have to say, by saying the night was hectic as we sat amidst a sea of empty tables, I didn’t feel good or smart. I felt like my intelligence was insulted.
We did wind up talking to a manager as we were leaving. I always keep my cool in situations like this because the best way to handle a difficult situation is as emotionless as possible. I like to stick to the facts so they can understand what they need to address. The mere fact that I ask for a manager should always signify something is really wrong or something is really right. The manager was very nice but again kept saying “I’m sorry” over and over again which, in our society, is no longer used to repent but just to make someone shut up. What was nice is that she put actions behind her meaningless words and took 50% off our bill.
And for the first time ever, I didn’t leave a tip.