Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Balancing the Diet Budget

Those that know me personally know that about a year and a half ago, I started out on a journey to lose a whole mess of weight. So far I've lost about 65 pounds and have another 20-25 left to go; I have to say that I feel the best I have ever felt.

Part of this process has been recognizing certain things about how I eat and how I have eaten my entire life. To this point, the biggest focus of my diet has been calorie restriction. This means that I have not paid a ton of attention to what I eat but instead have just been eating a heck of a lot LESS of it. This combined with exercise has drastically helped me to lose the first 65 pounds. It's also taught me a lot about foods that are better for you than others as well as the fine art and smart practice of reading food labels. I've learned what appropriate portions look like (as in an actual serving of pasta instead of the American idea of a serving) and how to cook just enough for one or two people. It's been a great experience.

All of that said, there are several things I have NOT been paying attention to in this process - namely the amount of fat, sugar, sodium, and cholesterol I have been taking in. Then yesterday I had a rude awakening when I was looking over my Livestrong for the day. My sugar count was as 399% of my recommended for someone trying to lose 2 lbs/week at my current weight.

That's right... sugar count at 93 grams. And look at how low my fat & cholesterol are! Bad - you betcha. That was before dinner which was Chili Mac... which surely would have raised some of those low numbers, but more sugar surely would have been added in the pasta and chili.

Needless to say - this was the slap in the face I needed. My family has a history of diabetes and so a reduction is necessary for me to stay healthy long term. My diet is not terribly well balanced - clearly - so some changes need to be made in order for me to get on the track I want to be on.

I immediately went through the list and found the heavy hitters for sugar and thought of ways that I could lower my sugar intake. The biggest culprit was the yogurt I was eating. The prepackaged, preflavored yogurt I had yesterday offered up 29 grams of sugar - which is over the recommended for my pre-exercise calorie limit! By going to the store and buying plain yogurt, fresh strawberries to mix in, and flavoring it by adding vanilla & cinnamon I decreased the sugar count to 10.1 grams - a 19 gram reduction! Another heavy hitter is the granola bar that I chose for myself this week; it offers up 13 grams of sugar per serving. Next week when I'm out of granola bars, I'll be switching this out to one serving of nuts instead (probably almonds or cashews - yum!).

Here is what today's totals look like after adjusting my almond milk (unsweetened vanilla instead of sweetened), switching the yogurt, and making sure the sugar count in my lunch was under 10 grams:

This is before dinner, but as you can see I'm about 35 grams down from yesterday - which is a positive move! My sodium is pretty darn high, but that's due to the can of soup I had for lunch today (gotta love the high sodium in canned soup... or something... chug chug chug the water!). Next week I'll be making further adjustments to raise the low and decrease the high, but overall as I move into the homestretch of my weight loss I'm excited to be balancing my diet and becoming more and more aware of the things that I eat.

What do you do to keep your diet balanced?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mr. Wendal

I approached him and said hello. He pushed his friend's bag off of the bench next to him and insisted that I sit and talk with him. I looked at the spilled soup on the bench and assessed the situation... could I sit without getting soup on my pants? Did it matter?

I sat down on the bench. He looked me in the eyes, looked at the students who had followed me to talk with this man, and then looked at me again. "I know you, I remember you, do you remember me? Do you know me?" He looked in my eyes and waited for my response... I had no idea who this man was. What I did know was that as soon as I sat down, he took off his hat and did not lose eye contact once.

Over the course of 15 minutes, this man who is anonymous to the many who walk by him daily spoke to me with passion in his eyes and voice about Jesus Christ. He admitted to drinking too much, but took no shame in the three shots that he already had before noon. He shooed away another homeless person so intoxicated he was drooling away so that he could profess his faith to one late twenties woman and the three young students who came alongside of her. After all, he had an important message to convey to us, and he couldn't have this man interrupting with his spit and profanity.

He explained to us how he goes to the bank when he gets money and makes change to give people what little money he has. He pointed to the crowd of homeless people on the next bench over and told us how he gives them cigarettes and even spent $32 to buy one of them weed. "I drink", he said, "so what I care he smokes? No matter."

He kissed his hands several times and raised them to the sky. I listened for 15 minutes as this man preached to me about how important it was to focus on Jesus Christ, Christ is the ONLY THING. He pulled a stack of ones out of his pocket. "Do you know where I get this? Jesus. I go to the bank, I change, I give one dollar, one dollar, one dollar..." He kissed his hands and raised them again, and again, and again; he continued to insist that Jesus Christ, Christ is the only thing, the ONLY THING, that he needs.

Arrested Development - "Mr. Wendal"

Again and again he asked: "Do you understand?"

I nodded and continued to listen. "These people walk every day, they work. They work! They no understand the one important thing - Christ! Christ is important! But people - they just walk, they walk to work!"

"Do you understand? You tell me, what is important? Do you understand?"

He was so passionate about his faith in Jesus Christ that I had to hold back tears as I said "Yes, yes, I understand." For the first time - I think I really did understand what was important. This man's faith was the most genuine faith I had ever seen in my life - and I go to a church where everyone who I am surrounded by is pretty passionate about being genuine and honest with how they live their lives. But let's be real - there are few people in my life who aren't incredibly blessed. Even those that have the least at my church are wealthy compared to the people we met today.

This man that I spent 15 minutes listening to... all he had was Jesus. He showed me that his home was the bench, the five foot surrounding area, and all of these people. But Jesus - Jesus gave him new shoes and a cane so he could walk better. He knew Jesus. Jesus gave him what little food he had. He kissed his hands again.

At the end of my conversation with this man, another man came over and sat on the bench next to him. He was much more subdued, but he looked at me with genuine appreciation. He thanked Steve and I for taking time out of our "surely busy schedules" to come and spend time with them. He looked at us and said "Most people don't respect us. I don't know why you guys came to spend time with us low-lifes."

I felt the tears again, and couldn't help but smile when Steve said "What?? You're NOT low-lifes. You're awesome people. We've had a great time talking to you guys today. You're just as much God's people as everyone else is." The man just smiled, gave us a fist bump, and continued to tell us how much he - they - appreciated people coming down and giving them the time of day. More than anything else, it's the love of others who are helping them survive. God's hands and feet in the form of some young adults with willing ears and open hearts.

On the way out I met another man who most of our students had spent time talking with. This particular man is also homeless, works full-time and is friends with a friend of one of our student ministry volunteers, Elyse. He beamed as he told Elyse that as of Thursday - he's not going to be homeless anymore. He got a room nearby that he'll be able to move into this week. Elyse introduced me and he said "Wait a minute! I don't think you were around when we were giving out smiley-faces earlier." I took my glove off, he took a purple Sharpie out of his pocket, and drew a smiley-face on my hand.

These people with very, very little gave away smiley-face Sharpie "tattoos" and perfectly shaped pine cones they had found on the Common. The man who spent 15 minutes talking to me about Jesus tried to give one of our students $2. They had Jesus, and He was all that they needed, so they lived by His example in every moment the way they knew how.

It was a powerful message. I learned more in 90 minutes today than I did in the previous 29-plus years of living I've done. God was at work in my heart today, and I will forever be changed by the time I spent with the residents of Boston Common.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I am Free to Run...

When the year started, I set out some goals for myself. I am admittedly doing better in some than in others, but one that I am really setting my eyes towards is being able to run in a 5K race. A bit of searching on the intertubes revealed that there are quite a few of them in the Merrimack Valley alone (the area of New England I live in), but if I broaden that search to the whole of Massachusetts and New Hampshire there are even more to choose from.

I did some searching yesterday and tracked down one race in Wakefield, MA on Lake Quannapowitt that I think could be a good one for someone who's never run in a 5K (about 3.1 miles) before. It's a flat course around a big lake that lots of people run; in fact, a couple of the people I work with run/walk it on a regular basis. The link to the race page did not work, so I emailed the contact to make sure that the race is still "on" and to verify the date. I heard back from him and it's on November 6, 2010.

Quannapowitt Reflections Originally uploaded by excard1970
I've decided that this will be the race that I run this year. A while back, Fit This Girl had offered a piece of advice that it makes it easier to train for a race when you've actually signed up for one. Since the sign-ups aren't available yet, the best I can do is mark it in our calendar so that I have the goal in mind.

Now that I have one, I have to work on my time. From what I've been able to tell from some online research, it seems like the average time to be able to run a 5K is between 30-40 minutes. In the fall before we went to Jamaica, I did my first go on a treadmill (our gym has a treadmill with a 5K loop setting) and my initial time was 44 minutes, 54 seconds. Last night I did it again and found out that I have shaved 3 minutes off of my time; I was able to complete it in 41 minutes, 54 seconds last night. This means I'm not far off from the average run time, which makes me excited.

For now, I'm still not able to run the entire 5K on the treadmill which means there's no way I'd be able to run the entire thing outside yet (treadmill offers less resistance than actual road surface). I'm getting closer and closer the more I work for it though, which is encouraging for someone who was never really a runner. As soon as the weather is consistently nice, I'm going to start running outside and maybe even try to get over to Quannapowitt once in a while after work just to try the course out.

I'm excited about having a path towards reaching one of my goals before the year is out.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Adventures at the ENT - Antibiotics OVER!

4 weeks and 56 pills later - I am finished taking the antibiotic treatment for my mild to moderate sinus infection that my ENT doctor saw on the CT scan.

I am very glad to not have to worry about taking the antibiotic anymore. While it was easy to remember the bedtime dose because I was taking it nightly with my vitamins, I was having a hard time remembering to take the morning dose. Clearly I did not want to miss a pill, so there were several days when I was taking the pill rather late. No matter - I got it into my system to work its bacteria-killing magic.

So what exactly was I taking? Dr. Postal prescribed me a 875 milligram tablet of Augmentin twice per day. This is a rather large pill made up of a penicillin derivative and is pretty potent. If you've heard of it before it's probably because it's commonly prescribed to children who suffer from ear infections; my sister Becky took it a lot as did my brother when they were kids. They were prone. There are a great number of medications that can be prescribed for sinusitis, this just happened to be the one that the doctor chose.

So what exactly happened to me while I was on the medication and did it help? The short answer is yes. After 1.5 weeks on the antibiotic I ran out of my decongestant at home and tried to go a couple of days without it. It was fine, so after 2 weeks I went ahead and eliminated the nasal rinse as well. I did not use the rinse the entire time we were on vacation and had no adverse effects. This was great. There were a couple of days when the weather changed and I could feel a little bit of pressure, but otherwise breathing has improved, the headaches have decreased to minimal or none (at least sinus related), and exercising has been a dream. I still have a little bit of postnasal drip and some congestion, but since my doc suspects that I may have dust/mold allergies - this should not surprise me as I live in a basement apartment.

The downside. Just about all antibiotics (and all medications for that matter) have a litany of side effects you can get. They can range from digestive issues like nausea and diarrhea to fungal issues like thrush or yeast infections. This is because they kill bacteria - even the good kinds that your body naturally has to help maintain balance and health. The side effects can be prevented or minimized by eating lots and lots of yogurt. I made sure to eat a yogurt every day, some days adding a bit of frozen yogurt as well. However - 4 weeks of antibiotics is a long time, and I was not so lucky as to avoid any side effects. Somewhere around the end of week two I began to suspect that I might be falling victim to a yeast infection. A visit to the doctor confirmed that I was correct and I was diagnosed with my very first yeast infection (wasn't feeling very reassured with the nurse welcomed me to the club and said it would be the first of many...). The good news, however, is that it's nothing that a simple little pill can't fix. Because I still had some antibiotics left to go, she gave me a script for 2 antifungal pills; one to take immediately and one to take at the end of the pill cycle.

I now am to wait for 2 weeks and see how I fare without the antibiotics. I'll still continue with the Flonase spray for my postnasal drip during that time (it's the spring which means pollen which means I'll get the postnasal - joy!). My next appointment with my doctor is on April 1 as a follow-up to the antibiotics and 2 week absence of the medication. The big question at that point will be:

Great - so we've cleared up this particular chronic infection. But this happens to me at least bi-annually. What is the underlying cause? Am I just lucky enough to be susceptible to sinusitis?

In the meantime - my sinuses feel better than they have in MONTHS. I am extremely grateful for that, that's for sure!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Enjoying the Warmth

It was cold.

I could not believe that I had actually done it. I looked into the mug at what was left of my coffee from earlier that morning and saw the last 4 sips of coffee. Knowing full well that even just one sip - let alone four - would be absolutely disgusting I took a sip anyways. What entered my digestive track was one of the nastiest samplings of coffee that had ever made its way into my body.

I couldn't finish the last 3 sips. From that moment on, I made absolutely sure that I finished my coffee before the heat escaped the insulated sides of the thermal mug. I could not put myself through the torture of another sip of cold coffee. Even an afternoon cup of tea had to be enjoyed in that brief window of warmth - the 15 minute period between "burn your face off" hot and "this might as well be served on a porch in the summer" cold.

There would be no sipping and enjoying the warm beverage for Danielle at her desk.

But then... it happened. A life-changing moment for the cubicle farm resident who does not drink coffee or tea merely for the caffeine rush. A moment of wonderful for the coffee drinker who savors every sip and wants the pleasure to last for hours.

The mug warmer.

(Picture found at giftmugs.com)

It was a day I will never forget. A "Secret Santa" swap with the colleagues in Customer Service at work with a $10-15 cash limit on gifts was taking place. I watched as people opened various gifts... scarves, coffee, homemade candied popcorn. We laughed as we all made jokes and enjoyed each others' company over crockpots of meatballs and pasta. It was my turn to open the carefully wrapped holiday gift bag that was handed to me with a large smile from one of my co-workers. I pulled aside the paper and found a Toastmasters electric mug warmer, complete with mug and an additional box of teabags for me to sip and enjoy.

I was thrilled, excited to plug in the miniature hot-plate and see if it worked. I washed the mug, placed a tea bag inside, and filled it with hot water from our cooler. I moved the switch on the warmer to the "ON" position... and waited. Two hours later and halfway through my cup of raspberry tea, it was still warm and delicious.

Three years later, the mug warmer still holds a position of pride on the desk in my little piece of land in the cubicle farm. Sitting in front of my computer monitors, it gladly waits for me to return from the kitchen with my mug of Columbian coffee so that it can maintain it at a warm yet drinkable temperature for as long as I need. On those days when I don't get around to finishing my coffee until late into the afternoon hours, my mug warmer has been faithful.

As I sip my coffee and type this, I smile. It's the small things in life, really.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Top O' The Mornin' To Ya!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day everyone!!

In honor of the patron saint of Ireland, we Americans often do things that have absolutely nothing to do with celebrating the life of a man who was able to convert most of Ireland to Christianity back in 432 A.D. We drink green beer, we dye rivers green, and "don we now our green apparel" throughout the country. We put shamrocks on our windows and have parades in the streets to celebrate (those of us who have it) our Irish heritage while flaunting all things green. 

Which is funny... because St. Patrick's original color associated with him was blue. Go figure.

Since most of my heritage is based in the United Kingdom (I'm mostly of Scottish heritage, some Irish & English, with a dash of French and Native American on the side), I have also been known to celebrate this fine holiday. This year I am making my first corned beef & cabbage meal (though it's in the Crockpot instead of boiled) and having friends over for dinner and beer. There's not really a good way to make a corned beef & cabbage dinner for 2 people - so all the better to share it!

Also, I thought I would share with you a bit of Celtic rock from my favorite Walt Disney World band - Off Kilter. Rock music with bagpipes... really? No. You can't go wrong. Here they're performing "Irish Rover" - one of my favorite songs they perform and seemingly appropriate for today.

How are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tired and Weary

I've had a relatively mild case of insomnia over the last few days. I have not gotten enough sleep and it's starting to catch up with me in the form of yawns, headaches, sleepiness, an inability to process thoughts the way I'd like to, and more outwardly - crankiness. Being cranky is one of those things that will creep up on you when you least expect it; you think you're fine, and then you come out with some sort of unkind word or action totally outside of your normal character boundaries.

It's awful for you and those around you. I actively hate being cranky.

Sunday when we were at church I noticed that there were these tiny cards sitting near the programs with the logo for the current message series on the book of Galatians on the back. I grabbed a couple of these to take home, and as I was walking away from the table I flipped it over to read what was on the other side.

Galatians 5:22-23 "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!"

At the time it didn't really hit my heart all at once, but I thought it was a great verse and clearly relevant to the message that our pastor delivered that day. I left the cards in my pocket and placed them on my dresser that night when I emptied my pockets. Little did I know that Saturday was not going to be the only night of lousy sleep I would get over the next few days... I also slept lousy on Sunday night and last night. A lack of sleep leaves me vulnerable for the sins of the tongue; I'm apt to release the kind of tongue-lashings on others (especially my poor husband) that we're warned against in the book of James.

This morning after being cranky with Steve, whining about going to the gym, and finding my fuse extremely short... I noticed the little cards on my dresser again this morning. I re-read the verse, and haven't been able to stop thinking about it all day. Where's the law that says that being overtired requires a certain level of nastiness with others and an overall negative attitude towards the day? Where does it say that because I didn't get enough sleep that I'm to be unkind to my loved ones (because I know they'll love me anyways)? Where is the requirement that says I must overlook the joys in life and lose my patience at every turn?

There isn't one!

So today I have spent the better part of it with my eyes turned towards God. Praying that the Holy Spirit fill my heart and help me to turn away from the dark, cranky, mean parts of being overtired. Whenever I can feel my patience slipping through my fingers, I've prayed that the Holy Spirit catch it and reign it in.

With the Holy Spirit in my heart, the cranky part of me that I've been battling for the last 48 hours or so is easier to reign in. I thank God for His grace and His love and His word... without them, this bought of lousy sleep patterns would be that much more unbearable: for me and everyone else.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mission Cookbook: Couscous Stuffed Peppers

As many do, I have quite a few cookbooks and cooking magazines that I never quite get around to trying recipes out of. Sure, I cook and create (I have made a few recipes of my own) but it's rare that I crack open a cookbook and make the wonderful dishes inside.

 My Cookbook Collection

I decided recently that I would begin to change that trend and start making things out of my cookbooks. I also made the decision that to keep me motivated, I would make this a regular feature on my blog. I'm calling it...


I know, it's very creative. If you've got a better idea - I'm open to it; just leave it in the comments. I may use it, you never know... especially if it's more creative than that.

The basic idea for this feature will be that each week Steve will pick a cookbook (he asked if he could when I told him about this) and then from there I will pick a recipe to make. When I post about it, to respect the authors/publishers of the cookbook I will NOT be posting the recipe itself; instead I will post the main ingredients, our thoughts on the recipe, any modifications if I were to make it again, and a link to the book (just incase you want to buy it yourself or find it at your local library).

Anyhow, for my first recipe I picked Couscous Stuffed Peppers from the Mediterranean: Food of the Sun cookbook that I got in the Borders bargain bin a couple of years ago. This was the first recipe I've made from it, and it was pretty tasty. The main ingredients were sweet red peppers, couscous, onions, and raisins.

This was the first time I had ever made stuffed peppers of any kind (Steve is not a fan of the traditional American stuffed peppers that have ground meat, rice, and tomato sauce) so I was excited for the experience. The entire process to cook them took about an hour (30-40 minutes prep, 20-25 minutes to cook). There were a couple of things that I did differently from the recipe:
  • I eliminated the 1 tsp of olive oil that it called for. I didn't think it would make a huge taste difference in the small amount across the large portion of filling that it called for - I was right.
  • After the 20 minutes baking until tender that the book called for on the recipe, I turned my oven to "Broil" for 1 minute to create the tasty red-pepper charring that I enjoy and that it showed in the picture.
I served the peppers with a small side salad of romaine lettuce, raisins, Texas Toast croutons and balsamic vinaigrette. When I entered the recipe into Livestrong to get our calorie output, each pepper only contained 182 calories - and they were pretty filling, especially with the small salad on the side. For a nerdy cute touch, I served it with a beverage of seltzer and lime slices and made sure to add the mint leave garnish that the recipe suggested.

If I were to make this again, I think I would add a little bit of basil, maybe a dash of cinnamon, and a bit of feta cheese. The couscous stuffing was good, but felt like it was missing something more that even the teaspoon of olive oil wouldn't have replaced. Overall though, I liked using the sweet red pepper as the one to stuff. It added a wonderful flavor that the green bell peppers used in traditional American stuffed peppers just don't have. The husband litmus test was passed, he ate it all and we'll be saving the other 4 peppers for our lunches this week.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It Only Takes a Small Thing...

I was at the gym last night powering away on the elliptical when this commercial came on one of the TVs that was within my view. It's a longer advertisement for Liberty Mutual insurance - but the message is one that might as well make it a PSA (public service announcement).

I absolutely loved this commercial! The idea that just doing a small thing to help out a fellow human being can make a difference and cause a ripple effect is actually a huge idea when you think about it. Imagine if the domino effect of small helpful favors witnessed by others cause those people to be inspired to do something small to help someone else out. Imagine how that would grow the hearts of those doing the small acts of kindness, then how the hearts of those receiving the kindness would grow, and they would do small acts to others... and before you know it we're all just loving each other in all of these small ways.

Imagine the power of that much love spreading... imagine how much bigger it could get. Today you hold a door, tomorrow you hold a door AND help carry their bag, the day after you hold a door AND help carry their bag AND ask them how they're doing.

You see?

Attitude is contagious whether it's positive or negative. For example - if someone cuts you off in traffic because they're rushed and in a hurry, you get flustered. Then you get to work and are unable to focus because you clearly almost died the way that person cut you off, and your work doesn't get done so you get cranky. Then you snap at the person who you perceive is taking too long to get their coffee and you can't get yours. That person gets flustered and goes back to their desk, upset about how you acted. They in turn snap at their boss whose feelings are hurt... etc.

But positivity is contagious too. If you're in a room full of people who are laughing, joking, and having a good time - it's hard to stay negative for too long. When I come home in a rotten mood because of work, Steve has a great ability to act like a giant goofball and laugh until I join him... and my mood improves.

Kindness and generosity are the same way.

We should all be inspired by this two-minute advertisement. While I'm not inspired to purchase Liberty Mutual Insurance, I am inspired to become more aware of the people around me and how I can do small things to help them have a better day and an easier go at whatever they're doing. Will you join me in this quest to make the world a better place, one small act of kindness at a time?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday Giveaway Opportunities!

Who doesn't love a good contest with awesome prizes??

I wanted to let you all know about two blog contests that are going on right now that you should enter - the prizes are fabulous!!

Ms. Maggie Moo Talks 2 U: Toosdae Questions Giveaway!
This week my good friend Mags is giving away some of her amazing baked goods in honor of achieving 100,000+ visitors to her blog. I've known her for a few years and had her baked goods myself - so I can vouch for their deliciousness and quality. There are three ways for you to win your choice of a Lemon Friendship Cake or a Rum Cake (her bestsellers from her Etsy shop):
  1. Answer all three of her Toosdae Questions (Found by following THIS LINK).
  2. REFERRALS!!! You get an entry if you refer someone... soooo... tell them that Danielle sent you over if you enter. (wink-wink, nudge-nudge)
  3. Tweet about it and let her know that you did.
While you're at it - congratulate her on having such an awesome and wildly popular blog. She rocks!

Diary of a Real Girl: A Very Merry Un-Giveaway
In celebration of the release of Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland", Jen over at "Diary of a Real Girl" is giving away all 4 of OPI's colors that celebrate the release of the movie. They have such awesome names as "Off with her Red" and "Mad as a Hatter". She's also adding a bottle of a quick-dry top coat to the mix - and as I've learned, top coats make everything better! She also has 3 ways to enter:
  1. Leave a comment with your favorite of the four colors OPI has released, as well as your favorite "Alice in Wonderland" memory (her blog about it found by following THIS LINK).
  2. Tweet about it with the following: “I want to win @realgirlsdiary very merry un-giveaway http://tinyurl.com/ybmoxub” - and send her an email letting her know you did (details found on her blog post)
  3. Write your own blog post about the giveaway and let her know you did so.
Be sure to head over to both of these awesome contests and throw your name in the hat to win. If you do you'll be glad you entered - besides, they're free giveaways so what do you really have to lose?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Finding Love at 30,000 Feet

If anyone has ever been on an airline flight, you know that the airline flight attendants can be hit or miss in terms of attitude. Some can be extremely wonderful and helpful, others can be curt and unpleasant. Typically I find most airline attendants are relatively nice, and every once in a while there's one that will really stand out.

This last weekend on a flight from Orlando to Boston, I found an airline attendant named Kim with a big heart and love for others.

It seemed like Kim was like any other good airline attendant. She took our drink orders, made her announcements flawlessly, and made sure her passengers had everything they needed. She brought me my ice water and Steve his seltzer and cranberry juice with a big smile. When Kim came around to collect our trash was when we learned that there was something different about our flight attendant.

She came down our aisle with the white trash bag wide open collecting everyone's cups, bottles, snack bags, used tissues, or other debris that is typically found on the plane. When she got to our row, Steve reached over to throw away his cans; she politely asked him to hang on and let her grab the cans. She very deliberately took the tabs off of each can before throwing them away, and slipped the tabs into her pocket. Curious, Steve asked her why she was saving the tabs. She casually said "Oh, we get 3-cents per tab for the Ronald McDonald House. Last year we were able to build 13 cottages, and since I can get all the tabs here on the flights, I just take a couple of extra seconds when I collect the trash to pull the tabs off." With a shrug and a smile, she continued down the aisle collecting trash (and presumably) tabs.

One too many
Originally uploaded to Flickr by mar52laine
A little while later while Steve was in the bathroom, Kim came over to inquire about what I was crocheting. After I told her what I was working on, I mentioned to her that I had a pile of pop-tabs at home and asked if there was an address I could ship them too (there used to be a drop for the Shriner's at my office, and there isn't anymore). She perked up a bit, said she absolutely did, and came back with an address on a slip of paper for me.

Kim then proceeded to tell me about the involvement she and her family have with the Ronald McDonald House. She lives very close by and is active in serving there, as are her children. Her kids walk over there on the weekends and read to the children who are in there for treatments. Additionally, she helped to build the cottages that the kids stay in while they are there for chemo and is currently working with a team to put together bags with portable DVD players and movies for the kids. This would allow them to have their own stuff rather than relying on what the hospital has available for entertainment. She also told me that on Christmas Eve, they had gotten a lot of snow and were snowed in baking cookies and making fudge. They put together platters of cookies & fudge and brought them over not only to the Ronald McDonald house, but also to the Emergency Room staff at the medical center down the street from where she lives.

I was very excited to hear Kim's story and was in awe of seeing how God was using Kim and her children to serve others in their community. Her passion for serving the kids of the Ronald McDonald house was visible not only in how carefully she removed the pop-tabs from the cans, but also in how excited she was when she told me about the work she and her kids are doing.

When Steve got back from the bathroom, I told him about what I had learned about Kim and how God was using her to do His work. At the end of our flight, I slipped the paper with Kim's address in my bag and made sure not to lose it while we were unpacking. I have a boatload of pop-tabs to mail to a very loving, excited flight attendant.