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Archive for October, 2012

This month Instagram turns 2.

In only 24 months time the photo sharing app has taken the internet by storm. With an average of 7.3 million daily active users the company was “gobbled up by Facebook for $300 million in cash and 23 million shares of stock… Other applications who offered the same services as Instagram have shut its doors earlier this year (see: PicPlz) while others have found themselves laying off practically entire staffs. Instagram is literally killing their competition!”*

I think it’s safe to say the fine folks at Instagram aren’t sittin’ in Gramma’s rockin’ chair watching time pass by; rather looking forward and making plans for the future.

While they go ahead and look forward, I take time to look back.

Presenting… my Top 5 All Time Favorite (Personal) Instagram Photos:

Slurpee

5. Oh Thank Heaven! My first Slurpee in Wisconsin – and boy did it hit the spot! Looking at this Instagram pic still makes my mouth water.

gourds4. My husband added three real gourds to the jar of fake ones in the kitchen. Any guesses which is which?

peaches n' cream3. Ummm. Peaches n’ cream. There’s nothing quite like fresh peaches in a bowl of cold milk with sugar sprinkled on top.

fridaynightlights2. This Instagram pic definitely makes my Top 5! It’s the very first Instagram I ever sent. Friday Night Lights live from Salt Lake City, Utah. I took this photo at the Cottonwood High School home opener in 2011. Boy do I miss that view of the Wasatch Front!

Pepsi Woodstock1. There are no words. Actually, I take that back. If this was a post on Twitter I’d add this photo and use one of the following hashtags: #wasteoftime #goingretro #husbandsaveseverything #pieceofjunk? #youtellme #howmuchwouldyoupay? #whyimgoinggray

To follow me on Instagram – search for @krachelw.

*courtesy Vibe.com

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Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?

[Chorus]
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.*

It was one of those weeks. Actually, not even one of ‘those’ weeks. Something entirely different. It has instead been a week that has been emotionally-taxing on my soul.

A dear friend from high school left for the trip of a lifetime with her sweet family. It was something they talked about for the past six months. The anticipation and excitement grew. And then, in the blink of an eye, it was time to board the plane and go. We exchanged notes of thanks and good luck over Facebook and went about our separate ways. But only hours later – Wednesday morning – she mentioned that they were at the hospital; her 4-year-old Mia, a heart transplant recipient, wasn’t feeling well and appeared to have pneumonia. Only a few short hours later the devastating news was shared: her heart was in rejection and she needed the support of a heart and lung machine (ECMO) in order to survive.

Loved ones began to rally. Prayers were offered by friends. Little ones dressed in red, Mia’s favorite color. Mamas showed signs of support by sharing heart photos. An online donation page was even established. Talk about an outpouring of love and support! And for the next 48 hours I watched as people across the nation held tight to their faith in God that 4-year-old Mia would turn around and a miracle would come.

Today, sadly, we learn that Mia’s time on earth is running short. And while a mere four days ago she was dreaming of a trip to the happiest place on earth, tonight her family sits at her bedside in a hospital far, far from home as they prepare for the dreaded task of saying good-bye.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a loved one. I don’t know how parents survive after placing a child in the ground. But during my time working with children facing life-threatening medical conditions I met many, many parents who have done just that. Each and every one of them is a hero to me. They have done the unthinkable, yet find it in their hearts to not turn on God, but rather find strength in Him. They smile. They share their story with others. They know that God is good.

Perhaps that is why I needed to lose myself in service. I was feeling, well, you know. Yucky. Slimy. Guilty that my own children are strong and healthy. So when the opportunity arose to prepare a meal for guests currently staying at the local Ronald McDonald House, I jumped at the chance to serve. And you know what they say about service – those who serve get just as much out of the service as those who receive. After watching the heartbreaking situation my friend is going through, going out and serving is the LEAST I could do for my fellowman.

Ronald McDonald HouseThe home itself is beautiful. Located on Watertown Plank Road, the Ronald McDonald House of Eastern Wisconsin has the ability to house 38 families a night. Families are only asked to pay $10 per night, but no family is ever turned away for their ability to pay. More than 1,000 families stayed at the home in 2011, but another 806 were turned away, due to high occupancy.

RMH heartOutside the home, a giant heart with the initials ‘RMH’ sits on the front lawn.

“How fitting,” I thought – as my week has become consumed with thoughts of little Mia and her failing heart.

Once inside I immediately felt a spirit of love. I believe in heaven, and that’s the only way I can think of to describe the feeling in the RMH. It felt like heaven.

RMH volunteerRMH crock potsA wonderful volunteer showed us the ropes. We were to set up our crock pots and salads and then help the house guests with any dinner-related questions they may have.

At six o’clock prompt the families began to file in to the dining room. One woman sat alone, off to the side of the hall. I asked her if she wouldn’t mind my company and we started talking about the one thing we have in common – being moms. The evening began to quickly pass as I found myself serving those in need.

There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,”
But go and do something today.
’Tis noble of man to work and to give;
Love’s labor has merit alone.
Only he who does something helps others to live.
To God each good work will be known.

Perspective. Now instead of sitting on the couch and feeling sorry for myself, I find myself getting lost – lost in service.

*Text and music: Will L. Thompson, 1847–1909, alt.

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There’s one – and only one – reason why I can tolerate live tv.

Twitter.

It allows me to multi-task. It allows me to ‘talk’ with millions of people who know nothing about me yet agree with everything I say. And so I tweet. I and all of my friends find happiness and lots of laughter as we converse with one another during live tv shows.

Such is the case for tonight’s live presidential debates. I chuckle at what either the President or Mr. Romney says – and then realize that my friends on Twitter feel the same way.

What? Mitt doesn’t like Big Bird?

What do you mean when you say ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about’???

Honestly – watching a live debate becomes a whole new world of comedy when Twitter gets involved. So a short recap, my friends, of some of my favorite tweets from the night:

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So it turns out I have a new hobby. A new way to kill time. Yet another way to connect with colleagues, friends and co-workers. I PUSH the little plus sign when I visit their Linkedin profile. That’s right… I ENDORSE my contacts. And truthfully, it IS that easy.

Different from Linkedin’s ‘Recommendation‘ feature, an Endorsement allows those who know you best to ‘Endorse’ your areas of expertise.

ImageFor example: I have experience using Raiser’s Edge, so a former supervisor has endorsed me… she has clicked the plus sign and by doing so acknowledges that this is an area I am competent in. (She was also kind enough to endorse me in quite a few other areas, including Microsoft Office, Outlook, Non-profits, Fundraising, Community Outreach, Social Networking, Media Relations, Public Relations and Public Speaking – to name a few. And she would know – SHE was my boss!)

Endorsements are a new idea, but I really like them. For someone looking for a new job, the endorsements feature allows employers to browse the individual’s skills and see which areas have been endorsed by others. For this reason I take my endorsing very seriously. While I know that my cousin is a teacher, I won’t endorse him as a teacher because I haven’t worked with him in this role. But I’ve seen his stand up comedy acts at family parties, so I might endorse him as a stand-up comedian. I know that my friend from church works in sales, but I’ve only worked with her on volunteer matters that are church-related. So I wouldn’t feel comfortable endorsing her work in sales, but I’d be more than happy to endorse her as a volunteer. A former co-worker has changed careers, so I would feel comfortable endorsing those skills that she shared when we worked together, but I can’t speak for what she does now as the work we do no longer shares a common interest. You get the idea.

ImageTo start endorsing simply log in to Linkedin and visit a colleague’s profile. Across the top of the page you’ll get a pop up box asking if your colleague has the following skills or expertise. Note that this is just a sampling of skills, not necessarily all of the skills your colleague has listed. What I love about this is the flexibility you have in endorsing. In my friend Steve’s case, if I don’t feel comfortable endorsing him in ‘Sales Management’ I can simply click the ‘x’ and close that skill, then go ahead and click the ‘Endorse’ button, and endorse the other four skills all with one click of the mouse. If I want to add to the list I can click in the box where it says ‘Type another area of expertise…’ and add another skill that I want to endorse. This is a great feature because Steve may have overlooked a skill that I really feel should be added to his profile.

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If you prefer to endorse skills one at a time you can just scroll down your friend’s page and look for the list of skills. Simply arrow over to the right side of the page and click the + sign for each skill you’d like to endorse.

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If you do chose to endorse a friend by clicking multiple skills at a time, once you complete your endorsement your screen will update to a grouping of four different colleagues. This is where you can really start to have fun. It’s a lot like playing a card game. You go through and click ‘Endorse’ on the ones you feel comfortable endorsing, and once you do the card will update to a new contact. Better yet, click ‘Endorse all 4’ and then get four new faces all at once. Go ahead. Give it a try. I DARE you to tell me it’s not addicting!

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As popularity of the Endorse feature grows your colleagues will soon catch on. The hope is that not only will they benefit from being endorsed by you, but that you’ll soon benefit from all of those who return the favor.

So go ahead and visit your Linkedin account and start endorsing. Leave a comment and let me know how it goes.

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