Archive | November 2013

Somewhere in Lompoc, USA

I’m laid up a bit again—this time with three broken toes.  Just call me Klutz.  I can get around ok around the house but I hobble like a decrepit old woman.  It’s been three weeks and I was going stir-crazy so I tried to go shopping a couple times, thinking that if I wore my tennies that are two sizes too big, and used the electric carts that are available in the stores, I could manage it.

Wrong.  The shoes were ok, but I was a wild woman driving those carts.  I don’t think the other customers appreciated me.  For one thing, the carts stop on a dime if you let up on the accelerator the least little bit.  I couldn’t see behind me, but I have a feeling some people were already a little aggravated being stuck behind me in the crowded aisles, and then when I would come to a sudden, screeching halt and they’d almost run into me, well…  One lady even came up to me, bent down and looked me squarely in the face and asked, “Are you okay?”  I was mortified!  I wished I had a bumper sticker just then that said, “Please don’t tailgate!”  Um… on the other hand, maybe not.

My problems with the electric carts did not stop there.  One of the carts I got would take to wobbling every once and a while.  It would zig-zag and shake like a little kid learning to ride a two-wheeler for the first time, while I hung on for dear life and called out, “Look out!  Look Out!  Sorry!”  Did I mention the aisles were very crowded?  I took one corner too sharply and knocked off some things that were hanging by hooks on a rack.  I was embarrassed already and then looked up to see three young men in their late teens/early twenties about eight feet in front of me.  They were jumping around, waving their hands in the air and saying things like “Watch out!  Woman driver!’ and “Clear the aisles!  Here she comes!”  I don’t think they were being mean.  They were laughing in a good-natured, friendly kind of way—just teasing me.  What could I do but laugh with them, and get off the stupid cart and pick up the things I’d knocked down!

All that to get around to the subject of my blog today… I’ve stayed out of the stores since then.  For one thing, that particular little excursion set me back to square one as far as my foot healing.  I came to the conclusion that I have to stay off of it, even at home, if I have any hope of it being better in time for Christmas.  Well okay, I thought.  Maybe I could do my Christmas shopping on the internet.  That actually sounded like a good idea!  Skip the crowds and traffic, the endless hunting for the perfect gifts, the wrapping and mailing and standing in line at the post office…  Just let my fingers do the walking on the keyboard and Ho! Ho! Ho!

That is where I ran into my second problem.  Bob and I never do financial transactions over the internet.  He is afraid that even with good security measures we will have hackers stealing our identity and causing us a lifetime of “issues.”  I am allowed to shop on the internet—but only if I can place the order over the telephone.  (Call us old-fashioned.)  My other rule, if at all possible, is to never pay for shipping!

I had a good time shopping at a couple of my favorite websites the other day from the comfort of my couch.  I was looking for gifts for Robbie and my daughter Julie’s family who live in Lompoc, California.   Ordered most of the things with no problem from one place using an 800 number and a friendly customer service representative.  Free shipping—whoo hoo!  This was going well!  Now I just had four more things to order at Walmart.com .

Now, there is a slight issue at Walmart.com .  They have no way to order over the telephone.  All orders must be made online and you do not get to speak to a friendly service representative—ever.  Ever, ever! However, if you are like us and do not put your credit card number out over the internet, then you can place your order online and then run to your local Walmart and pay for it there within 48 hours, after which they will process and ship your order. Fine and dandy.  I have done it before and it worked just fine.  With a slight difference.  In the past my order was shipped site-to-store for free and when it arrived I picked it up there at the store.  Did I mention it was free?

This order was supposed to be shipped to Julie in California.  Directly to her house—for free because the order was more than $50.  I put in the shipping address, including Julie’s full name, the street address, city, state, zip code—the whole shebang.  Clicked on it, set up the order, went to Walmart the next day to pay for it—and got an e-mail back from them saying the order was being processed—and shipped to Cynthia Griffith, Lompoc, CA, USA!  Say what???

Suddenly I felt like Waldo in Where’s Waldo?  I didn’t really care if they got the name wrong on the shipping label, but seriously—could you please include the street address?  Where in Lompoc, CA, USA is Cynthia Griffith???  I couldn’t speak to a service rep (friendly or not) to try to make sure they were actually sending it to the correct address.  The only way to get through to Customer Service was by e-mail.  My first e-mail brought an automated response which was of no help at all.  My second e-mail sounded a little more desperate and perhaps a bit more annoyed.  I received the exact same computer-driven response referring me back to the website’s FAQs.  I have no idea whether a real person will see my e-mails, or if a real person will see look at that shipping label before it’s sent out into Waldo’s World, or if I’ll get any help at all from a real, live person!  My biggest urgent issue is that there were two birthday gifts for Hannah’s 10th birthday in that order.  Her birthday is December 8th, and the package is scheduled to arrive between Dec. 5-7—just in the nick of time if it is not floating around somewhere in Lompoc, USA.

I know I am just an order number to Walmart.com.  Their system does not care about a stressed out and aggravated grandma or a little ten-year old who may not get her birthday presents.  Walmart.com is so huge it is not one bit concerned about Cynthia Griffith and her measly little problem with them.  They may get around to fixing it eventually, but it may be too late by then.  After all, they are trying to service hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of customers.  There’s no way they can use real people with a little human concern and helpfulness to provide real resolutions to their customers’ problems.

Well, I know Someone Who is far bigger than Walmart.com and Who has billions upon billions more people for whom to care—and He knows every single one of them by name, not number.  He can pinpoint each person on earth without a street address, zip code or GPS location whether we are in the midst of the ocean (Psalm 139:9), surrounded by an enemy army (Psalm 27:1-3),  in the belly of a great fish (Jonah 2) or in the womb (Psalm 139:13-16).

Most precious of all, is the fact that not only does He know my name, He knows where I am and He sees me, but He is always with me and always thinking about me, personally.  Psalm 139 goes on to say, “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.” (vs. 17-18)  We may feel lost in this big world; unimportant and small, but we are cherished by God and under His wing.  “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust…”  (Psalm 91:4)  How comforting!  How I feel loved!

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Unto Us a Child is Born

Is it irreverent to use this phrase to refer to any other baby than the Lord Jesus?  I don’t know, and I am sorry if it is.  I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but at this time of year, when we are rejoicing in the advent of the Baby Jesus, we in our family are celebrating the birth of another baby, as well—our twelfth grandchild Vanessa Juliette!  There is nothing more exciting and wonderful to a grandma than to be blessed with another grandbaby—and, to this grandma, anyway, to see all her grandchildren grow up to know and love Jesus.

Vanessa arrived by C-section on Wednesday, November 13th at twenty inches long and weighing seven pounds, four ounces.  She also came into the world with problems.  The cord was wrapped around her neck and she was grayish-blue and not breathing well.  They rushed her off to intensive care and began giving her pure oxygen.  It was a tense couple of hours as we waited for the doctor to come back with news on how she was doing. Vanessa

It turned out that the cord around her neck was not the cause of her respiratory problems.  It was loosely wrapped, and according to the doctor, at no time had she been deprived of oxygen or brain-damaged.  Rather, the baby’s breathing problems stemmed from her being born by c-section.  Apparently, not going through the birth canal results in trouble for some babies when the fluids and gunk are not squeezed out in the normal birth process.  (Sorry—poor medical description, I know!)  The doctor assured Laurie and Fernando that the baby will be alright.

Praise God!  Laurie is doing well and went home from the hospital Friday evening.  The baby will go home from the hospital, the Lord willing, tomorrow if she is totally weaned off the oxygen and can eat by mouth.  Vanessa’s five sisters and one brother can hardly wait!  They have not been allowed to see her at all.  In fact, two year old Mandy can’t figure out where her baby sister went.  She’s not in Mommy’s tummy anymore, but when she got to go to the hospital, she didn’t see her there, either!

It’ll be a sweet Welcome Home party for Baby Vanessa!  Laurie plans to dress her up in her glittery red roses princess dress.  Everyone will get to finally see, touch and hold that precious baby.  The best Grandma and Grandpa will get to do is see her on Skype, but I am not complaining.  Just praising God that she is doing well, and that we get to see her at all!

That first baby we mentioned?  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given… and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)  Jesus!  Our sweet Vanessa Juliette (also a beautiful name, I must say) has brought joy into our family and to those who love us.  The precious baby born in Bethlehem brought Joy to the World!  And His name  Jesus is the Sweetest Name I hnow!  Although His birth was a humble one, Jesus was welcomed into this world by angels, shepherds and kings.  Still today, more than 2000 years later, millions around the world remember His first coming and celebrate His birth every year!  Glory to God in the highest!  We thank Him for leaving the Halls of Heaven to walk on earth with us for a little while in order that we might walk with Him for all eternity!  He brought Light into this dark world, Hope for the hopeless, Peace for the comfortless, and Salvation for all who would believe and accept Him as their Savior.  Thank you, Jesus!

And thank You, Lord for the sweet baby born unto us this week!

See You Next Week!

I’m sorry–no Sundays with Cindy today.  😦   Robbie and I have had a rough morning and week with seizures.  Please pray that we get them back under better control.  See you next week!

The Launch Party

I reached my goal!  I achieved my dream!  Well, let me qualify that a bit:  “I” with a lot of help did those things.  On Friday, November 1st I published my Noble Heart series of seven books on amazon.com.  I’ve often said that writing a book feels a lot like giving birth (well, minus the physical pain!)  You labor over it for months, you pour everything you have into it, and when it is finally finished, you’re so proud and happy and excited!  My seven “babies” just went off to their first day of kindergarten—sent out into the world at last!

“A momentous and historic occasion”—that’s what my friend Mark called it.  That made me laugh!  “They’re going to go viral!” he also predicted.  Even more laughter!  “Could I be there when you click Publish?” he asked.  “Let’s make a celebration of it!”

How could I say no?  If it weren’t for Mark it would have never happened.  Mark had all the technical expertise and skills I didn’t have to put the books in the correct format.  He had the determination to research and figure out the things he didn’t yet know.  And he had the enthusiasm and faith to give me that final push to actually get ‘er done!

So Friday night we had a little “Launch Party.”  Mark and his sister Jean came over with a huge bouquet of flowers for me and a bottle of bubbly–sparkling grape juice, that is!  I was happy before they came, but when they walked in ready to celebrate—well, that’s when I really got excited!  Mark and I had a couple little technical issues to take care of first at the computer, so Bob and Jean had a little Sing-Along-with-Robbie over at the piano with Rob.  They were having a grand old time!  Meanwhile, Mark and I were so excited we were practically jumping up and down in our chairs and clapping our hands!  (Remember, he’s 63 and I’m almost 62, but we were like a couple of kids at Christmas!)

Finally, the big moment came!  “Let’s pray first,” Mark suggested and led us in prayer that God would use these books in the lives of kids and their parents for His glory.  Amen!  Then Bob wanted to take pictures.  He carefully lined up shots of the computer screen (several screen shots, in fact), my finger poised to click over the mouse, my finger clicking the mouse…  “Enough!” I finally cried.  “Let’s just do it!”

We went book by book, from first to last.  I clicked on “Publish” and when a box came up saying the book was successfully published we all cheered and clapped!  They even sang “For She’s a Jolly Good Fellow” to me!  Robbie didn’t know what the hoopla was all about, but he was right there laughing and smiling with us!  More pictures and then Mark opened the sparkling grape juice and offered several toasts to the books, to me, and to future books!  The only thing missing was having Sarah Lowe there to celebrate with us.  Sarah is my niece and the artist who created the beautiful cover art for the books.  I thought of her several times as we celebrated.

It was a fun evening and a memory I will cherish for a long time to come—and it wasn’t over yet!  It was supposed to take 12-24 hours for the books to show up on Amazon.  Two hours later I was on the phone with Laurie and Fernando telling them about the great time we had enjoyed when I got a call-waiting.  It was Mark.  “Cindy!  They’re already on Amazon!”

“What?!!  How do they look?”

“Fantastic!”

I hung up with Mark and a few minutes later, with Laurie and Fernando, and rushed to amazon.com.  Sure enough—there they were!  I had just begun to look them over when the phone rang.  It was Sara, Gabi and Melissa, all excited to see Grandma’s books on Amazon, too!  While we were talking, call-waiting beeped again.  It was my niece Sarah.  “Aunt Cindy!  The books are on Amazon!”  She sounded super-excited!

“I know!  They just came on about twenty minutes ago!  Sarah, your covers look beautiful!”  We talked for a while, so happy with our collaboration.  I was so thankful, too, that I got to celebrate with her after all! “I’m so proud of you, Aunt Cindy!” Sarah kept saying.

That was what they all said!  Well, when Laurie and Fernando called back a few minutes later, Fernando put it this way, “I’m finally proud of you, Mom!”  He was teasing his mother-in-law.  Julie and David called a little later and I told them the books were on Amazon already.  They jumped online to take a look and rejoiced with me, too.  What a fun, fantastic night!

As wonderful as the evening was; as exciting as it was to see my name as an author out there on the web; as proud as I was seeing the fruit of my labor displayed, the absolute most important thing to me was seeing the ministry and the message I believe God has given me in these books going out to young people and their parents.  It is in God’s hands how large or how small that audience might be, but regardless of the numbers, I just pray God will use them somehow in each and every life they touch, and that He will be glorified through them.

What is the message in the Noble Heart books?  That God is with us and will never leave us or forsake us.  That He is faithful to guide, provide and protect.  That God is greater than any obstacle or trial that we could ever face.  That righteousness ultimately wins over evil.  That He wants us to be people of honor and integrity, courage, compassion and high character, and that he wants us to live by faith and share our faith.  That He wants us to pray.

Oh, I don’t expect kids to say, “I want to grow up to be like Noble Heart someday!”  But it is my prayer that as they meet the challenges of life as they are growing up, the godly values and virtues of these little books will have been so impressed upon them that they will make the right choices, whether consciously or subconsciously.

Jesus said, “…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) and then again, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19, 20)  I can no longer go as a missionary, but I pray the ministry and the message of my books and blog will go out into the world and reach young people and adults alike for Him.

NHSeries