Friday, August 9, 2013

We Want A Cook's Parade...

The campers--I had a Flamingo and an Archangel this year

I did something that I never thought I'd do in a million years--I went to summer camp as a cook.  When I got my letter informing me that I was indeed going to camp, and as a cook, I laughed.  My Hubby laughed.  It was one grand joke.  Because I have never been that confident in the kitchen, I never make meals for people unless they are coming to my house for dinner (the whole church lady meal brigade thing has never been my thing), and I have no experience--none--cooking for large groups unless you count the two years I worked at A&W Restaurant where I occasionally filled in as a cook.

Plus, there is this thing about me that made serving in the kitchen laughable.  I hate the heat.  Hate it.  With a passion.  I hate being hot.  I have been known to whine when the thermometer is above 85.  So agreeing to spend an entire week at the end of July in a hot, unairconditioned kitchen left me a bit nervous.

My home away from home--a blessing to have such a nice home

Oh, and lets not forget the part of me that hates being out of her comfort zone.  That has a habit of buckling when under stress--have you ever tried getting every aspect of a meal done on time, at the same time, for 200 people?  Ya, me either.

But I went into this with a whole lot of prayer, both my own and from other people.  The process of working out my being able to go to camp in the first place was seamless, which led me to believe that my going was definitely God-ordained.  So I had a lot of faith that the week would go well despite my reservations.

The two weeks before camp are what I would affectionately call "Hell Week."  It was hot.  Like blazing hot.  Big fat heatwave two weeks before camp.  I admit that I was getting a lot nervous about what that would mean for camp week.  My life was in chaos as I tried to prepare the family for camp week--4 of us went to camp, Joy went to the Lake House with Grandma.  Anything that could go wrong did the week before camp.  I was an emotional basket case.  I felt like I was going coo-coo.  I couldn't concentrate on one thing long enough to get it done.  Hubby had a horrible week at work and was also not in the best frame of mind.  All I could think was--How am I ever going to survive camp when I am this crazy now???

And then the strangest thing happened.  Saturday morning we woke up early to load the car, drop the kids off at Grandma's, and head to camp for staff training.  The kids went into Grandma's house, Hubby and I got back in the car, the door shut, and instantly a breath of peace settled over me.  It was like every care in the world was suddenly lifted.

I had an awesome week at camp.  I loved working in the kitchen.  The weather was beautiful--ranging from 60-78 F.  It meant that the kitchen never got overly hot.  The other cooks were a lot of fun to work with and we worked well together.  The first few days my feet were really sore by the end of the day, but I never ran out of energy.  I never felt tired.  I always had a good attitude.

My Music Man Hubby (in black), David being a short, fat Texan (in blue)

On our way home from camp Hubby commented on how surprised he was at how I handled camp.  He thought for sure that I would have at least one emotional shut down time, which is what happens when this introvert spends a lot of time in an extrovert situation.  But that never happened.  Not even once.

We got home from camp a week later.  I started a load of laundry, did some unpacking, and then sat down on the couch.  Within seconds I was asleep.  For the next two days I was exhausted.  But I never felt even a drop of it while at camp.

There were some other surprising, God-breathed moments and blessings that happened while I was at camp, but I will share those with you another day.  But for now, all I can tell you is that God was at camp with us.  He met all my needs and gave me the strength, energy, and mental capacity to be around people all day, every day.  To thrive and be cheerful despite spending 7-8 hours a day cooking in the kitchen.  Would I do it again?  Absolutely.  Probably not next year because Joy still isn't old enough to go to camp (though it may work out again to farm her out), but the year after that for sure.

Have you ever had an experience like this?  Where you felt led to do something that was out of your comfort zone?  Where you knew that it was only through the special grace of God that you thrived in a situation that would normally turn you into a puddle of mush?  I would love to hear your story--just leave a comment below.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Credit Card Fraud

Image source

I've always considered myself to be pretty savvy about protecting my identity, my credit card number, etc.  I only use my credit card for specific purchases, I read over my statements, I don't buy from unknown online websites.

And I got a call from my credit card company about my card.  It was a recording asking for information.  I ignored that and hung up because I'm smart like that and would never give the last 4 digits of my social security number to a source that I didn't call myself.  Instead, I called them back to see if the call was legit and if so, what the problem was.

My card was flagged for possible fraud.  I thought I was going to puke.  "What was the amount and for what?"  I thought surely they were flagging it for my big freezer purchase at Sears this week.  "It's for the Library Hotel in the amount of $7.77 at 11:20 am today."  No, that's definitely not me.  I haven't even left my house today; I haven't gone online and bought anything in the past week.

Account closed; new card being issued.  Half an hour later I still feel ill.  I've always wondered what would happen if someone stole my credit card number.  Would it get flagged immediately?  Would it show up on my bill?  Would I even notice?  How would they get my number?

And it comes down to this.  I have a wonderful credit card company who called me immediately.  And they just called me again for a second transaction attempt.  I am so very grateful to them for noticing a strange transaction and calling me--how did they know this purchase was fraud in the midst of all my other random purchases?  A trip to the Smokies, a trip to Disney World, etc.  And I also learned a valuable lesson.

I will never buy something over the phone again.  I assumed it was safe--I called them; Sears is reputable.  Lesson learned.  After talking to my credit card company, I've discovered that they don't go after the thieves.  But I can file a police report if I am pretty confident in where the theft occurred.  I will have to think about that one before deciding.  I am 99% sure, seeing as it's the only time I've purchased something over the phone in a really long time.  I just hate the thought of embroiling myself in yet another long, drawn out battle after all I went through with AT&T (a story I will share with you next week).

So, for all you credit card savvy people like me, don't assume it can't happen to you.  I thought I was doing everything by the book; I was doing everything by the book.  Check your credit card statements.  Be leery of buying things over the phone, even from a reputable company.  And when you get an automated phone call that claims it's from your credit card company, hang up and call them yourself so you know it's real.  Because sometimes the call is actually fraud in itself; but sometimes, like now, it's legit.