Nov 272010

When I moved to Atlanta, one of my new friends invited John and I to meet-up with their friends at a person’s house for a little party, meet and greet.  They sent us an invitation, told us meet them on Tuesday at 7pm at a certain address: in which we would be meeting in the basement, where it was designed to look like a 50’s diner.  Sounds like a no brainer.  And a lot of fun. New town, new friends.

John and I got dressed, drove over to their house, walked in the front door – didn’t see anyone, so we headed down to the basement, “Yes, this is the place – 50’s Diner.”  We waited for 10 or 15 minutes, giving ourselves a personal tour of the house.  Still, no one else had arrived.  John saw their foosball table and wanted to play, but I got this uneasy feeling, so we headed back upstairs.

We came around the corner, and this couple was eating dinner with their 3 kids.  They looked at us, sorta stunned, like:  Who are YOU and WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?  We smiled and said, OH our friend invited us to your house to meet everyone on Tuesday at 7pm.  He slowly pulled his reading glasses down below his eyes and said:  That’s NEXT TUESDAY AT 7PM.

I wanted to DIE of embarrassment.  Honestly, I didn’t want to go back next Tuesday.  They had no idea there were random people in their basement for 15 minutes.  That’s pretty scary to think about.  They kindly invited us to stay for dinner, OH Dear God, I just wanted to run.  Highly embarrassed, we quickly said our goodbyes and jumped in the car.  John shook his head, saying:  This sort of thing NEVER happened to me, until I met you. We laugh about it now.

That’s how it is with God.  No matter how many mistakes and mess ups, regrets, failures, and wrong turns, He invites us back to the table with unconditional love, grace and forgiveness.  No matter what we do or don’t do, whether we’re deserving or not, God always invites us back with an open invitation – a do-over of sorts.  It’s called GRACE.  Pass it along.  Just take note:  The next time you find yourself in someone’s basement, don’t play foosball, until you meet the Host first.  : )

Here’s to GRACE!

Ephesians 2:8-10 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

 Posted by at 9:14 pm
Nov 222010

When I was 11 years old, we had a school fundraiser – selling cookies, and the top 10 winners got a chance to walk on stage in front of the entire school and choose from over 100 items.  It was the ultimate treasure box of electronics, sports equipment and apparel. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.  I began selling cookies door to door and within 2 hours had sold over $400.

My mom was so shocked and amazed at my drive to win a prize, she joined the mission and drove me all over town, ending with $1000 worth of cookies sold by sunset.  I came in 3rd place and proudly walked on stage, glancing at everything carefully, picking up this and checking out that, until my eyes landed on . . . drum roll please . . . a Red Panasonic Cassette Player & Recorder.  I proudly walked off that stage beaming, as if someone had given me a sports car.

Like most kids, mine will do anything for a Gold Star, Money or Prizes from the Treasure Box.  Sometimes I wish someone would give me a treasure box.  I’d surely be more motivated. Why should kids have all the fun?  So when my friend Becky challenged me to write down 10 things under $10 that I could reward myself with, instead of food, I went right to work.

I’m a gift person, so I figured I’d have my list completed within a couple of minutes, but what I realized is:  I knew everyone else’s list, but had trouble figuring out my own.  It’s in our nature to serve others, often times forgetting about ourselves.  It’s much easier to give, than receive.

We’re not used to having the tables turned – instead we’re taking dinner orders, like an overworked waitress handling 6 tables at once, with life’s demands flying on our “to do” list quicker than we can strike them off.

I’m much like the kids – a rabbit chasing a carrot.  You dangle a play pretty in front of me, I’m immediately motivated to do what it takes to get the job done. . . laundry . . . dishes. . . groceries.  If you splash a little motivation in the mix, it’s amazing how much work you can squeeze out of me.

What motivates you?  Create a list of 10 items under $10 and reward yourself!  Here’s my list, to get the creative juices flowing.  Make yourself a treasure box.  You deserve it!

Stephanie’s Treasure Box:

Sleeve of Golf Balls (pink or bright yellow) – easier to find in the woods

Movies: Comedies: Sweet Home Alabama / Christmas Vacation

Inspirational Books / Biography’s / Magazines

Eye brows waxed – this is good for everyone

Fun Jewelry – Rings (Pier One Imports, Target, Art/Glass Shops)

iTunes downloads

Tennis Balls (I love to hear the sound of freshness when I pop open a can)

Colorful knit scarfs

Girlie Baseball Caps

Fun Nail Polish

So here’s to creating your very on treasure box.  Thanks Becky for your inspiration and your blog:

 Posted by at 10:22 pm
Nov 042010

When I was 5 years old, my birthday landed on Easter. There was an Easter Egg Hunt at my uncle Jerry’s and the prize was a Golden Egg.  My heart was racing with excitement as I gazed every nook and cranny of the yard, looking for the prize.  And suddenly it appeared, as if my uncle wanted Me to find it on my birthday  As he presented me with the Prize, out came his wallet and a $5 bill.

You would have thought Publisher’s Clearing House had shown up to my door with a big check.  Stephanie Pletka, you are the winner of. . . drum roll please, $5 Dollars!  Ta Da!  I saw confetti, in my mind, that day.

I took that golden egg (eh hem – boiled egg dipped in gold) to bed with me.  I carried it around in a little tin bucket all week. Till one day, high on the shelf, I discovered that in the middle of the night, ants had made their way up the wall, like a little army, and had destroyed my perfect golden egg.  That egg represented my happiness and just like that:  It was gone!

Webster’s defines happiness as a state of well being or contentment.  They didn’t say anything about a golden egg.

Often times, we carry our happiness around like it’s this fragile object that can be taken away at any moment.  Hello, my name is Surface Happy, a “fly by the seat of my pants” friend.  It’s that (Wear it on your Sleeve) shallow happiness.  With one blow of a horn, talking to a jerky customer service rep or the kids scraping paint off your new car with THEIR bike handles. . . Everything goes to Hell in a Hand Basket.  The minute someone bumps your Happy, BAM, Happiness leaves the building and Crazy takes its place.

Don’t allow those individual circumstances to define your day.  Happy needs deeper roots, like an oak tree planted firmly along a rushing stream.  Don’t let instances beyond your control steal your happiness.

With all the places we go and the things we do, we’re constantly in-and-out of nice and not-so-nice moments.  The kids make you breakfast (ah, how sweet) a parent calls you out on something (ah, I’m a sucky mom).

Of course, we’re gonna feel it in the moment, but we can’t allow those instances to determine the path of our day, or who we are as a person.  We can’t carry the load of those who were mean or rude to us, on our back to the next situation.  We have to isolate it in a box and see it for what it is.  Learn to quickly slosh off the junk and Embrace a sturdier, hardier, healthier, deep rooted happy that can’t easily be bumped, destroyed or stolen.

Your Happiness is no golden egg, rather an Oak Tree not easily moved.  Walk in deep rooted Happy today and when there’s a bump in the road, see it as just that, a bump.  If you can hold on to “Your Happy in Life”, you’ll feel as though Publisher’s Clearing House made YOU the winner, and you may even see Confetti in your mind.  Ta Da!

Here’s to Making Every Moment Count!

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

 Posted by at 1:30 pm