Kate Zook’s Diary

Three Weeks Before An Amish Buggy Ride

Thanksgiving has come and gone. It was such a nice visit with Daed’s bruders, even if David didn’t ride along. I don’t think he came home on Wednesday night. When the driver showed up, Becca asked where he was but no one answered. I know what that silence means for Maem always says that if something good cannot be said, nothing should be said at all.

I spent most of my visit in the kitchen with my cousins, Linda and Sylvia. I hadn’t known that Linda is a teacher now. She had wunderbarr stories about her students; I haven’t laughed that much in a long time. I do wish we lived closer for she’s planning a Christmas Pageant with her students. I’ll have to attend Becca’s pageant anyway, but it would be fun to see how Linda’s turns out.

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When we came home, I found David sleeping in his bed. He still wore his boots. I removed them and covered him with his quilt. He mumbled in his sleep and I smelled the alcohol on his breath. I won’t be telling Maem and Daed about that. It’s better that they think he’s sick. That’s what I told them. It’s not really a lie because if he’s drunk from alcohol, that is a sickness. God will forgive me, I’m sure.

Maybe I best pray about it anyway.

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Wednesday’s Wanderer: Lori B. Rassas

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As an employment attorney and a career coach, I continue to be amazed and humbled by the fact that so many of my clients tell me that they apply the career advice I provide to a number of different aspects of their lives, including how they build and nurture their personal relationships. Perhaps this should not surprise me; although most of us need to work to earn money to survive (to acquire food, shelter, and other necessities), at the same time, most of us see our jobs as much more than that. Some people place a high value on the prestige associated with a position, and other people view their jobs as a measurement of self-worth or their ability to make a valuable contribution to society.

Consider this scenario I often discuss with my clients, related to the importance of continue to build relationships when looking for a job (even when faced with frustration about the fact that nothing seems to be producing results):

You’re sitting around the dinner table and someone asks you to pass the jar of pickles. You pick it up, try to open it, and can’t get the lid to budge. Your daughter taps the top of the jar with her fork a few times, but can’t open it, either. Finally, your husband tries hitting the lid with the flat edge of his knife—but before he can try to open it, your son grabs the jar and opens it with little effort.

So, who was responsible for opening the jar… your son? Well, he was the final link in the chain. More likely, though, it was the collective effort of everyone along the way that contributed to the end result.

Each person may have helped loosen the jar’s grip, despite seeing little or no progress. Even though most everyone’s efforts were deemed unsuccessful, it is not clear the desired result would have been achieved without the collective effort. The effort continued because someone likely felt that the lid was loosening, which would have provided everyone at the table with motivation to continue to try to open the jar despite no visible change in the looseness of the lid. Each time someone handled the jar and attempted to open it, they were weakening the lid’s seal, which they were unable to see. So, even though it may not have appeared that you were making progress—and as long as the jar was closed it was difficult to measure that progress—as the jar was passed around the table, you were indeed getting closer to the end goal.

Finding a great job takes a lot of work, and you may spend years getting to know people and offering to do favors for people, all without seeing very much in return. But, in the employment context, one small conversation, one interaction, or even one minute can change everything: Someone may resign or retire, or ta company may acquire money to expand its headcount. All of a sudden, your efforts will have paid off.

The same rationale that I use to assist others to achieve success in the workplace applies to how we should view our personal relationships. Sometimes we may put significant effort into trying to make a positive influence in someone’s life, but then stop trying to bring about that change due to an overwhelming sense of helplessness, because our work is not producing any visible results. The fact is, you just never know when your act of kindness will elicit a change, or when the person on the receiving end of your generosity will pay it forward to someone else—making a significant difference in that person’s life. That subsequent difference would not have been made without you starting the chain reaction.

The point is that just because you do not see an immediate return on your investment of goodwill doesn’t mean you aren’t making a meaningful and significant contribution toward the end result. We should all strive to be kind and generous to others. Take solace in the fact that even if you do not see an outright or immediate result, perhaps a warm smile, a call to a long-lost friend in need, or an unsolicited invitation to provide assistance might be just what is needed for someone to finally pop the lid off of their jar of dreams.


Lori B. Rassas is an SPHR-certified employment attorney with more than a decade of experience representing both employers and employees in all aspects of their employment. The second edition of her textbook, Employment Law: A Guide to Hiring, Managing, and Firing for Employers and Employees (Wolters Kluwer, 2nd ed. 2014) was published in December 2013, and she is working on a second book that will provide guidance to individuals about how to effectively navigate the modern job-search process. In 2013, Lori left her position at Columbia University and now has her own consulting business to handle employment matters. She is also a member of the adjunct faculty at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Cornell University’s Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution, Fordham University’s School of Law, and Berkeley College. Lori is also a recognized expert on employment law and career issues, and was most recently quoted in a New York Times article about job references.

You can follow Lori on Twitter (@lorirassas) or contact her via LinkedIn.

Kate Zook’s Diary

Four Weeks Before An Amish Buggy Ride

Last night, there was a commotion downstairs. David must have been out with his friends and came home very late. Daed was not happy and I heard him talking to David. Something was awful wrong because David yelled at him! I’ve never heard anyone yell in our haus. The ruckus woke up Becca and I quickly let her into my room so that she could snuggle under the covers with me.

I tried to distract her by talking about the family gathering next week for Thanksgiving. We have two family dinners to attend and Maem is hosting her own on Friday. Becca seems excited to visit with her cousins. I’m excited for the smaller gathering here at home. But it will be nice to see Daed’s family on Thursday and Maem’s on Saturday, even if we do have to hire a driver to get there.

David seemed quiet at the breakfast table this morning and left the haus right afterward. Daed and Maem weren’t talkative, either. I wonder what happened last night and pray that David is all right.

PREORDER SARAH PRICE’S UPCOMING BOOK BY CLICKING HERE

An Amish Buggy Ride

Wednesday’s Wanderer: Nicole Deese author of A Cliché Christmas

Finding Home

Home.

What a simple word. What a complex meaning.

My family (husband and two sons) moved from Oregon to Texas three years ago. And let me tell you, the contrast between these two states is drastic. Not only did we have to adjust to the CRAZY HOT summers (not a fan) but the culture, terrain, and politics are polar opposite as well. Though we’ve found many of these changes to be a pleasant surprise, other changes have not been so easy or adaptable.

What I’ve learned in the last few years is that it takes a great deal of flexibility to make a three-thousand-mile move. And even then, with arm-loads of perseverance and patience, home can be a tricky thing to grasp.

I wrote A Cliché Christmas when I was missing home. Not the home that holds my heart—my husband and my boys. Or the home that’s located inside of Frisco, Texas.

But the home I see when I close my eyes.

My childhood home in Oregon.

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I can remember the smell of damp pine needles after it rains (which is a lot) and the snow that dusts the mountain peaks surrounding our town. I can remember the community-feel and the welcoming storefronts and the sea of friendly faces.

And though Lenox, Oregon, the small-town setting of A Cliché Christmas is purely fictional, I can visualize it so well because I’ve been there a thousand times in my mind. It’s where I go when I’m homesick. It’s where I go when I need to remember what fall and winter are. It’s where I go when I need to feel the warmth of my extended family.

I hope each of you have a comforting place like this to escape to—even if it’s in your mind. And if you don’t, then you can borrow mine.

A Cliché Christmas is a romantic comedy about abandoned love that’s rekindled. It’s unique families and crazy cape-wearing neighbors. It’s snowstorm blackouts and competitive inner tubing down a mountainside. It’s old memories and new memories merging to rewrite the future.

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And to finally find a place to call home.

Enjoy.

2014 American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis Award Finalist

A Cliche ChristmasWriting happy endings is easy. Living one is the hard part.

Georgia Cole—known in Hollywood as the “Holiday Goddess”—has made a name for herself writing heartwarming screenplays chock-full of Christmas clichés, but she has yet to experience the true magic of the season. So, when her eccentric grandmother volunteers her to direct a pageant at Georgia’s hometown community theater, she is less than thrilled. To make matters worse, she’ll be working alongside Weston James, her childhood crush and the one man she has tried desperately to forget.

Now, facing memories of a lonely childhood and the humiliation of her last onstage performance, seven years earlier, Georgia is on the verge of a complete mistletoe meltdown. As Weston attempts to thaw the frozen walls around her heart, Georgia endeavors to let go of her fears and give love a second chance. If she does, will she finally believe that Christmas can be more than a cliché?

Available now on Amazon.com and in Walmart stores nationwide.

Click here to purchase A Cliché Christmas


Nicole DeeseNicole Deese is a lover of fiction. When she isn’t writing, she can be found fantasizes about “reading escapes,” which look a lot like kid-free, laundry-free, and cooking-free vacations.

Her debut novel, an inspirational contemporary romance, All for Anna, has hit multiple milestones since its release in January 2013, including a 4.8 star rating on Amazon and more than 150,000 downloads on Kindle. She has since completed the Letting Go Series and is anxiously anticipating the release of her heartwarming Christmas novella, A Cliché Christmas, published by Waterfall Press, an Amazon Publishing imprint. A Cliché Christmas will be sold Wal-Mart stores nationwide, fall of 2014.

Nicole lives in Frisco, Texas, with her husband, Tim, and her two rowdy boys, Preston and Lincoln.

Visit with Nicole on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and her blog!

Sunday Scripture

02181821Have you ever awoken in the morning and dreaded the idea of going to work? You know the feeling…you take an extra long time in the shower, you linger too long over coffee, you drive extra slow down the highway.

I used to be that person. I really did not like going to work. While I loved teaching my students and I loved all of the other faculty, it was the principles and values of the organization that bothered me. For economic reasons, enrollments declined. That meant less tuition. How did they respond? The week after their annual (and very expensive) “holiday” party, people were laid off…

Oh what I wouldn’t have done to give back that silly political party and save five or six jobs! In following years, the same thing happened. I refused to go to anymore “parties” in the hopes that someone’s job might be saved.

Yes, I dreaded that place. There was no rejoicing when I drove up to the building or had to meet with administrators. With less money and fewer people, responsibilities increased for the rest of us. The stress was tremendous and I truly believe that this unhealthy environment contributed to the development of my breast cancer.

So when I read this verse, I prayed a quick “THANK YOU” to God. You see, He knew that I was not happy at that place. My spirit suffered on a daily basis. God corrected that.

I won’t say that it wasn’t scary to lose that job. When you are suddenly removed (whether by choice or not) from an unhealthy environment, there are adjustments to be made: financial, emotional, psychological, social. Somehow, though, the sacrifice balances with the rewards.

While you didn’t ask for it, I do want to offer my advice. If you are unhappy with something in your life, take some time to re-evaluate how important it is to you. Is a paycheck worth feeling miserable? Could you sacrifice something (anything) to take a job at a healthier place, even if it is for less money? If not, can you find small victories at work to rejoice over? Sometimes a shift in perspective can help, too. Try to find it.

Today, I have reached a point in my life that I am happy. I have good children, a loving husband, a supportive mother and father. My life is not perfect…Satan still throws darts and daggers my way. But it sure is easier to dodge them when I have a grounded family.

I hope you will find a way to rejoice in your work, too.  :D

By the way, I really have been devouring this new version of the Holy Bible (Modern English Version). Last week, this verse really stayed with me.

Have you ever awoken in the morning and dreaded the idea of going to work? You know the feeling…you take an extra long time in the shower, you linger too long over coffee, you drive extra slow down the highway.

I used to be that person. I really did not like going to work. While I loved teaching my students and I loved all of the other faculty, it was the principles and values of the organization that bothered me. For economic reasons, enrollments declined. That meant less tuition. How did they respond? The week after their annual (and very expensive) “holiday” party, people were laid off…

Oh what I wouldn’t have done to give back that silly political party and save five or six jobs! In following years, the same thing happened. I refused to go to anymore “parties” in the hopes that someone’s job might be saved.

Yes, I dreaded that place. There was no rejoicing when I drove up to the building or had to meet with administrators. With less money and fewer people, responsibilities increased for the rest of us. The stress was tremendous and I truly believe that this unhealthy environment contributed to the development of my breast cancer.

So when I read this verse, I prayed a quick “THANK YOU” to God. You see, He knew that I was not happy at that place. My spirit suffered on a daily basis. God corrected that.

I won’t say that it wasn’t scary to lose that job. When you are suddenly removed (whether by choice or not) from an unhealthy environment, there are adjustments to be made: financial, emotional, psychological, social. Somehow, though, the sacrifice balances with the rewards.

While you didn’t ask for it, I do want to offer my advice. If you are unhappy with something in your life, take some time to re-evaluate how important it is to you. Is a paycheck worth feeling miserable? Could you sacrifice something (anything) to take a job at a healthier place, even if it is for less money? If not, can you find small victories at work to rejoice over? Sometimes a shift in perspective can help, too. Try to find it.

Today, I have reached a point in my life that I am happy. I have good children, a loving husband, a supportive mother and father. My life is not perfect…Satan still throws darts and daggers my way. But it sure is easier to dodge them when I have a grounded family.

I hope you will find a way to rejoice in your work, too.  :D

By the way, I really have been devouring this new version of the Holy Bible (Modern English Version). Last week, this verse really stayed with me. Pick up a copy HERE.