Summer at Wendy’s


Last weekend, my daughter asked me to blog about the “Wendy’s” adventure we had this summer. She said “Mom, you always tell the good stories and I want to remember this one when I’m older.”

So, where to begin…….

Back in June, the kids and I had a terribly busy Sunday. Between church, camp prep meetings in the afternoon for the girl, Vacation Bible School for my little guy in the evening and a volunteer board meeting for me, we were running a ton of different directions as a family.

And, because Daddy was working, I had to shuttle everyone everywhere to the various meetings they needed to be present for and figuring out dinner became complicated.

Add to the mix the fact that our family has been trying to live on a cash-only budget this summer and I had about $5 in my wallet.

Knowing that Wendy’s has a $1 menu, I took my son to get a small burger, fries and drink for about $4, initially thinking that my girl might find food at her meetings later. All total, his meal was $4.17 which worked out because we had some loose change in our console.  This left me with one paper dollar (a fact which becomes important later).

After a few more drop-offs and pickups occurred, my daughter and I reunited and it was nearly 8:00 p.m. She shared that she was hungry and I thought “well, hey, I might have another $4.17 between the change in my purse and what we could find loose in our van.” So, I told my daughter to see if she could get to $4.17 with the one paper dollar and the change which she was able to do pretty quickly.

And, fortunately, there was a Wendy’s right near where my son needed to be picked up.  We arrived to the drive-thru window and I ordered the exact same meal for my daughter that we had gotten for my son earlier in the day.

I approached the drive-thru window with $1 in paper and $3.17 in change (7 quarters and the rest in dimes/nickels). As the clerk told me the amount, I handed her the change and my apology that I didn’t have any more paper bills. Her manager joined her at the window and she asked him to count my change.

He took a look at me and said “we don’t do that here.” I apologized again and said “it’s all I have.” To which he callously told the clerk to cancel the order and hand me back the change. She had already handed me the beverage, so stunned, I gave her back the beverage and we drove off. My girl and I were both a little surprised but I said “I guess that wasn’t meant to be, we’ll have to make a sandwich at home.”

We drove over to pick up my son and while his VBS was finishing up, I posted this on social media:

Well, that little post ignited my friends and followers on social media. People on Facebook asked for more details. Quickly, people wanted to know whether Wendy’s was willing to take coins or if this was a policy issue that needed to be changed. One of my friends called the store on the phone, spoke to the manager and received the name of the district manager for me while, over on Twitter, two news media stations messaged me and were asking for television interviews. The Wendy’s corporate Twitter handle asked me for my email address and several others also sent in email questions of their own to Wendy’s via the website to question why this had occurred.

My husband also decided he would visit this Wendy’s again the very next day to buy a meal with change to see if he got the same reaction. He didn’t. Staff were friendly and accepting of his change, so I knew that likely this was just a rash decision made on a Sunday evening by a manager who was probably as tired as I was.

So, I didn’t do the news media interviews. I explained to both news stations that I while I appreciated their interest, I wasn’t interested in shaming the manager or this particular Wendy’s too quickly. Instead, I wanted to give the corporate office some time to see if they would make an attempt to reach out and resolve the situation with me.

My phone did ring and the district manager called. He made no excuses for this situation and offered to write a letter of apology to both my daughter and I. I thanked him and explained that I was more concerned about people who may have to pay in change on a regular basis because that is all they have. I hoped that it was company policy to treat all forms of tender with respect. And, that if faced with a similar situation in the future, staff would be encouraged to think of alternatives if they had concerns about busying up their drive-thru as I would have been happy to come into the restaurant and pay in person instead of being waved off so harshly.  We had a great conversation and I let my social media friends know that the situation had resolved positively and thanked them for their support.

A few days later, I did receive that apology letter from Wendy’s, along with two gift cards for $50 each. The district manager said that he was touched by our conversation and the fact that we had been busy with church activities on the day of our infamous visit.  He asked us to think of a way to be generous with these cards.

So, after a little brainstorming, my kids and I came up with a plan.  Since this situation occurred in a drive-thru, we planned to visit a few more times this summer and pay for the cars behind us in line whenever we could.

Three trips later, it has been hilarious to watch the kids pray for people to show up behind us in line. They cheer and then root for fast service so we can get away quickly without being noticed.

So far, we have spent $16 on ourselves and $52 on other people. We still have $32 left to bless others in the coming weeks. The looks we get from the cars behind us in line have been priceless. We just pray a special blessing on the people in the drive-thru line, hope they will pass along the kindness and we enjoy the smile that the drive-thru clerk gives us when I say “can you use this to pay for all of the cars behind us?”

It’s not everyday that you can turn a lemon into lemonade, but thanks to the kindness of the Wendy’s district manager, our kids have learned a number of lessons about the power of customer service reactions in social media, the ability to give people the grace and space to own their missteps, the importance of apologies and how generosity can make a difficult situation so much better.

It’s been a memorable summer, thanks, in part, to our experience at Wendy’s.




Adventure Time Tuesdays

For the past 3 years, my husband has created a wonderful summer tradition for the kids, entitled “Adventure Time Tuesdays.”

Each Tuesday, he cooks up an epic adventure for the kids and usually only gives them a short clue to figure out what they will be doing. They have completed hikes, had theme days and each Tuesday, during summer, I grow jealous of the special memories that they are creating together.

But, I know that this special time is their tradition and Mommy’s presence might only bring some level of sanity and caution to these rather adventurous days.

And, since school starts early this year, tomorrow will be the final “Adventure Time Tuesday” and it’s all I can do to drag myself to work while they close out another epic year.

Here is a sample of some of their adventures this summer….

The kids took a sushi-making class at Benihana

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They had fun watching Daddy complete an indoor flying adventure.

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They went for donuts at their favorite donut shop, upside down pizza, and saw a Tesla Coil musical instrument in action after seeing a Japanese animated movie.

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And while his sister was at camp one week, Daddy and son did a special Adventure Time Tuesday at a “make your own pancakes” breakfast, Wunderland Arcade and wrapped it up at an ice cream shop.

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I know what tomorrow’s Adventure is…….and I’ll sum up with what our kids say “we love summer!”

And what does Daddy say? “I wish I were my own kid sometimes!”


Week at Camp

It is so hard to send your girl away to camp for 8 days.

Her brother gets lonely, the cat meows until the 4 of us are together again and everything just seems a little off all week. But we know that sending the kids to camp is one of the most faith-developing things that we can do because they get to focus on their own devotions, making new friends and really thinking about what Jesus means to them when they are away from us, as their parental influences.

Fortunately, in today’s technological world, the camps also regularly post pictures about what the kids are doing each day so it helps those of us who are missing their kids. Today, the kids came home after a long week at camp with stories, smelly clothes and smiles on their faces that made it all worth it.

Here are a few of the pictures that show some of the fun!

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Children Shall Lead Us


A few weeks ago, our son was involved in a Vacation Bible School while his sister attended a summer camp. He loves his sister so much that it’s hard on him when she is away. So, we seek to find special activities so he can create memories that are not filled simply with feeling alone.

This particular week, our little guy attended a missions-based Vacation Bible School where they learned about a different country every night and were raising money to provide clean water filters for Central America. Upon learning the fundraising goal was $50, my little guy was in disbelief. He came home on the first night and said “Mom, there are 100 kids at this VBS and they only want to raise $50. That is 50 cents per kid. Do they even know what we are capable of?”

Well, he contributed every penny he could find around our house and was pleased to learn at the end of the week, that the fundraising goal had been exceeded by $100 so they could fund 3 water filters for families who need them.

On one of the camp nights, I arrived a few minutes early for pickup and found my little guy, standing up front, leading worship. I am not sure where he gets these skills, but his enthusiasm was unparalleled. He knew every motion and his face lit up with the biggest smile when he saw me walk in the back door.

Immediately, I thought of Isaiah 11:6 which simply says:13501579_10154274517158948_2710295073446257253_n

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and
the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
and a little child shall lead them.”

And, in days like these, it is a picture of peace that we all hope for and cling to.

The Importance of Allies

I’sad-catve struggled this summer to share the stories of our family adventures because the news of the world has been so heavy.

It seems so pithy to say “hey, look at us, having a good time” while we, as a country mourn again. And because this blog is intended both to share about our family and include some of the world events that comprise our history, I’m going to take a moment and unwrap my feelings about the events of this week.

Thursday, we awoke to the news media sharing stories out of Louisiana and Minnesota about the death of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, at the hands of police officers. And, several hours later, we learned that 10 police officers in Dallas, Texas were shot by a sniper. Five of those officers died from the gunfire.

And, as I watched social media light up with empathy and rage, I also watched people nearly immediately take sides. Many profile pictures turned black in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement, while others posted the thin blue line in favor of law enforcement. And I felt torn and angry, too.

I am the daughter of a police officer and I will always admire, respect and support the important role that our police officers have to be guardians and protectors of our rights. I remember growing up and knowing that every night my dad went to work, he might not come home. When he would come home late from work, I knew my mom worried, wondering if last night was truly his last night. We cried at the funerals of other police officers, knowing each and every officer in the room runs towards gunfire and not away from it. And we prayed, often, for our dad’s safety and the safety of every officer who serves. For those of us who serve in public safety, we see first hand that the world is mad. We hear the 911 calls, the stories of unstable lives, the anger, the hatred, the desire for revenge that most people, in positions of privilege, don’t see in their everyday lives.

You probably just shuddered reading that I said “positions of privilege,” right? What do I mean by this? Is that me? Well, yes….

  • I have had access to a college education.
  • I am not in poverty by society’s standards.
  • I am white.
  • I am heterosexual.
  • I am a Christian, our country’s dominant religion.

And, I have had uniquely different experiences from my friends who don’t fit neatly into these 5 categories. I am torn because I can’t dismiss their life experiences. I have friends who are very well educated, articulate with great jobs, but who have been stopped as suspects of crime so often it is laughable. I have friends who have been arrested simply because their skin matched the suspect description even though they would never choose a life of crime. My friends struggle about what to tell their children when they are stopped by police because sometimes being respectful doesn’t change how they are treated by those who mistreat their positions of power. I haven’t lived in the shoes of my friends, but my heart hurts for their experiences.

I have had some limited experiences with what it might feel like marginalized. As a woman who has always worked in male-dominated industries like public safety and technology, people who don’t know me often will initially make the assumption that I’m the secretary or assistant to my male bosses. I have even had the experience of being told that “men just aren’t used to powerful women” and that has, at times, justified being belittled by derogatory names.

In my own story, I understand how those perceptions of others can affect my reality. I recently had a friend ask me why I haven’t pursued a director position in my field and I replied “I’m just more comfortable being an assistant” to which my friend said “Are you? Or is that all you believe you are capable of?” And that hit me in the gut, hard because I wondered if some of the cultural messaging has made me feel “safer” in support roles instead of leadership ones.

I have been fortunate over the years, as a woman, to have strong male allies in my world. From my early days in college, when debating with a female partner, we faced a lot of really tough rhetoric at times. But our male coach set a strong example for our male debate partners who supported us when we were told by judges that we should not be debating and instead should be making cookies for the men on our team. The presence of both awesome men on our debate team and in our NW community affirmed that we could and should use our voices to be strong women (and I am thankful to count them among my friends still today, thanks to Facebook). In career moments where I have struggled with how people view me, I have also been blessed to have peers and directors who patiently redirect others making poor assumptions about my role with my agency. While they may view these actions as small, their support means the world to me when I feel “less than” others.

So, how does this relate to the news stories of today? I have been struggling with how to respond to the heavy news of this week. It’s easy to simply say “the world needs God” and “we should pray for everyone,” but I think we have a larger role to play every day in the lives of the marginalized. When we see it happening, we must step up and be an ally. We need to say that it is not okay to marginalize others.

If we find ourselves in the role of the privileged, we can’t just choose a side as if we have nothing to learn from each other’s experiences. We must be cautious of blithely saying “all lives matter” because in doing so, we marginalize the experiences of those who don’t feel like they matter. When “everything” matters, nothing is addressed. We have issues in this country that need to be dealt with and discussed.

I should be able to say that “black lives matter” and wish for an accountable police department in the same breath. And, by accountable police department, I know there are amazing police officers in every department. But I also hear the stories that suggest the management of many police departments is fraught with disciplinary actions that have been overturned by judges and arbitrators so while upper management wishes to hold their staff accountable, this isn’t always so easy. Police departments also face huge staffing shortages in a day where they are being asked to do so much more than they were years ago. While these tensions are tough to solve, they also have to be part of the discussion.

While my heart hurts this week, I vow to be an ally, from my position to ensure that…..

  • Black Lives Matter;
  • Police Lives Matter;
  • Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Lives Matter;
  • Women’s Lives Matter;
  • Children’s Lives Matter;
  • Human Lives Matter through building supportive relationships, friendships, listening and holding space for all experiences, encouraging positive community conversations about how to effectively address and be intolerant of racism, violence, fear, discrimination and abuse that faces each of these groups.


Rant Over.

More trivial summer stories soon.

I promise.


Last night, inrainbow Orlando, Florida, the most significant shooting in American history took place. Near closing time, a gunman walked into a LGBT nightclub, opened fire and took hostages. By the end of his rampage, 50 people were dead and another 53 people were injured.

As many of us woke up on Sunday morning, getting ready for church or other weekend activities, we watched people pour out their sympathy on social media and talk about it in whispers in social settings as we tried to wrap our brains around the depravity and hatred that occurred in the wee hours of the morning.

As a parent, I don’t know how to have hope for my children’s generation some days. I want them to grow up, supported by friends and family who show love, kindness, peace and humility and yet I can’t explain why they see people so in fear on every level and all around us.

We fear people who don’t share our religion.

We fear people who don’t share our politics.

We fear people who don’t share our interpretation of marriage.

We fear people taking our guns away.

We fear people of different nationalities.

We fear people preying on our kids in bathrooms.

All too often, we fear listening to the experiences of others because we think it may change the way we feel about our own positions and beliefs.  Being present for people means showing up, being genuinely interested in the lives of others and the choices they make, listening to people as they struggle and sometimes just holding their hand in the awkward silences. Being present for others shouldn’t be full of fear. We can have differences of beliefs or opinions without shutting down another who may feel differently.

But today, I weep for the families who have been directly impacted by this shooting. I weep because I watch so many people rush to judgment of the victims and pontificate on the reasons behind this terrible tragedy. I weep because many will continue to miss the opportunities to be present for those who really need such simple support.

My kids live in a generation where they conduct active shooter drills at their schools on a regular basis where they practice whether they will run, fight or hide. They are taught how to reactively respond to the violence that surrounds them.

And while these are necessary defense issues in a world not taught to be present, it is my hope to teach my children not to live in fear. We are nowhere near perfect parents. In fact, you could easily put together a list of our family faults and imperfections. But one of the greatest lessons that we take from our Christian faith is in the way Jesus lived his life. He met people where they were, showed love and cared for them with both their daily needs and their spiritual needs. He asked people to follow him without changing a single belief or opinion they may have had. He didn’t set a standards for them to live up to before he engaged, but rather, he showed up. He celebrated at weddings, showed up where people were ill and wandered into the purest moments of family grief after the loss of a child.

We need to follow Christ’s example and show up for others, not fearful of their circumstances, beliefs or history.  We need to do this for so many in our circles and our communities.

I’m particularly reminded of a song I sang in church many years ago called “Love in Any Language” by one of my favorite artists, as a kid, Sandi Patty.

We teach the young our differences
Yet look how we’re the same
We love to laugh to dream our dreams
We know the sting of pain
From Leningrad to Lexington
The farmer loves his land
And daddies all get misty-eyed
To give their daughter’s hand

Oh maybe when we realize
How much there is to share
We’ll find too much in common
To pretend it isn’t there

Love in any language straight from the heart
Pulls us all together never apart
And once we learn to speak it all the world will hear
Love in any language fluently spoken here

I can’t explain the whys behind days like this, but I can be present in the lives of others which means I won’t waste time on the shooter, his reasons, the target or the politics of what happened.

But I will weep.

I will hug my children.

And I will check in on friends who may need someone to listen as they share how this situation or other difficult circumstances are affecting their lives.





Concert, Field Trips & Plays

The penultimate week of the school year is always the craziest. And this year was no different. 

I am convinced that Middle School has given us a whole new schedule complexity. And since I saw the high school band schedule this week, I am now scared of what our lives will be like in 3 years. 

This week contained: 

  1. Early Band Practice on Monday
  2. Band Concert on Tuesday
  3. Marching Band Parade on Wednesday
  4. End-of-year Band Party on Wednesday
  5. Field trip to the Zoo on Thursday
  6. Youth Group Dinner Delivery on Thursday
  7. Theater Play on Thursday 

Trust me, by Tuesday, I was exhausted! 

The week was a ton of fun, but I felt as tired as life with a newborn baby again. 

Here are some pictures of the adventures.

The pictures from the band concert all look pretty similar. Our girl is really getting good at the clairinet and we are amazed at the progress she has made in just 2 years. We look forward to see where she will be at the end of 8th grade in 2 more years. 

These three cutie pie boys were my charges on the zoo field trip. Going to the zoo with boys was very different than with girls. 

They liked to run, climb rocks and play at every opportunity. I am not convinced that the animals were the main attraction for these three. We did, however, have a great day. 

The bubble picture below is one of my favorites! 

Each of the boys had an animal to research. For my little guy, it was a giraffe so finding this animal was very critical for a successful trip to the zoo!

These last three pictures show my little guy as he played Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins. He was amazing. He walked & talked with a British accent and was so great an enunciating his words. 

It is so amazing to see him find his voice in the theater. He takes his practice for these roles so seriously. I adore watching him stretch himself with costume ideas, voice and through singing and dancing. It warms my heart to see him grow in this way. 

And, if that wasn’t enough for this week, we hit a safety fair today to get some bike helmets fitted for this summer. Our local hospital offered quality bike helmets for $6 each so even Daddy got a new helmet!

Hot Days & Hospital Nights

Yesterday was one of the hottest days of spring so far. At over 100 degrees, we knew that it was going to be warm.

And, as our schedules would have it, our girl had a parade in our local community days. So, we packed up some water, applied the sunscreen and found our spot along the parade route to cheer her on.

But, first, we enjoyed the annual pancake breakfast at the fire station. It’s always a nice way to start the morning.


As we prepared for the parade, we bought even more water as temperatures were beginning to race towards the 100-degree marker. My little guy grew weary of how often I was asking him if he had some water to drink.

Fortunately, for our girl, her band played early in the parade lineup so she and her best friend could easily return to where we were sitting to enjoy the rest of the parade.




After the parade, we usually wander through the midway games that are at one of the schools, but this year, it was so hot, we asked the kids if we could openly bribe them by going to any restaurant they wanted to for lunch (in hopes that we could find some air conditioning). It was not a huge fight as the kids were pretty hot as well and quickly chose a favorite pizza spot.

The rest of the day involved the kids playing outside with friends and consuming a fair number of popsicles in an attempt to stay cool.

But about 9p last night, my little guy came inside, complaining of stomach cramps. He was quite emotional and kept telling me that they didn’t feel like a normal “stummy ache.” So, I pulled out his medical card and called a medical advice nurse. She ran me through a battery of questions, but was concerned that she couldn’t rule out possible appendicitis. She told me that she would have a pretty low threshold about taking him into the emergency room for an evaluation if it didn’t quickly clear up.

Now, 9p is a tough time of night for medical emergencies. I wasn’t sure whether to just send him to bed and see if some sleep would help him, especially in his escalating state. He just kept crying and telling me that it was getting worse, so I packed up the kids and we made our way to the ER.


We were pretty quickly triaged and placed in a room. By this time, my little guy was shivering and he was quickly bundled in a blanket to await a visit from the doctor.



Over the course of the next few hours, our little guy’s symptoms began to fade and he was appearing much better by the time we saw the doctor just after midnight. The doctor believes he had some heat cramps from over exertion in the sun. So, while we were focused on his hydration, we should also have encouraged a little less running around in the intense heat.

By the time we got home, we were all ready for bed and are taking it easy today as we prepare for the coming school week (and yes, it is hot again today!)

Senior Prom

Yes, my girl is still in 6th grade, but tonight she had a fun opportunity to serve adults, over age 50, at a local “Senior Prom.”

Instead of spending her Friday night with friends, she served dinner, cleared dishes and even danced with an older gentleman who encouraged her to do well in school and listen to her parents.



The dance was well attended and included a number of prominent elected officials, our former Sheriff and our County Prosecutor. Our girl was tickled to meet one of the ladies running for County Council who we were just talking about voting for last night. She even had her picture taken with this special lady.


When we went to pick up our girl around 9:00 p.m., the music was still playing and a number of folks were still on the dance floor. And our son had fun twirling and dancing his way across the floor, delighting many of the ladies who thought both of our kids were adorable. As we walked out, many of the senior ladies stopped me to share what a delight our girl was throughout the evening which always warms a mother’s heart.

As we jumped into our car to head home, my girl was just bubbly about her experience and told me that she loved every minute of this evening and can’t wait to attend next year’s Senior Prom.

And while I’m not ready to admit we are growing ever closer to prom days in high school, this kind of prom will always be an “approved” way to spend a Friday night.


Loaves & Fishes

Yesterday evening, as we were driving home from a family event in our town, I read a Facebook status out loud to our family. 

You may remember around Christmas that our son took a keen interest in “his kids in Africa” when he set a goal to save $1000 to help children in Kenya. 

Last night, Olalo of Hope posted about a fire that affected a dormitory at their state school. Fortunately, none of the children were hurt, but some of them lost their clothes, shoes and mattresses. So, Olalo asked people to consider providing $225 to replace what had been lost for the 4 students they support at this dormitory. 

Our son reacted immediately and said “Mom, we need to count how much money I have been saving for my kids because they need it now!” He ventured a guess that he had about $10 he could gift to Olalo. 

When we got home, he brought me his savings box and quickly, it was clear that he had far more than $10. In fact, after we counted it, we figured out that he had $73.45 which he boxed up and asked me to take to Ms. Merry today. 

After taking the picture above, we shared this picture on Facebook and asked if anyone would be willing to match this donation to Olalo. 

And within just a few minutes, 7 of our friends matched our son’s donation and turned $73.45 into $587.60…..more than 2.5 times the original ask. 

One of my friends described what she witnessed akin to seeing the multiplying of loaves & fishes that were provided to Jesus while we was preaching to the 5,000 people who were listening to him. And while these funds won’t feed that many people, another child will have a year of education paid and possibly escape the cycle of poverty in Kenya. 

Another friend shared a special message that she had a particularly dark and depressing day yesterday and that matching our son’s gift was the blessing of her day. 

I am so thankful to have a son with a generous heart. Watching him bless his kids in Africa reminds us that the things we worry about sometimes as adults really are the little things amidst blessings we may take for granted. 

We can’t wait to see what God else does in our children’s lives…..because He already is doing something pretty special.