Yes, we hosted a digital party for Verizon!

Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Boomer Voices program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.

Well, we did it! The Chief Blonde from Still Blonde After all These Years and I pulled off our first digital party! It was the first time either of us ventured into a digital party, and we certainly learned a lot – especially me.

As part of the Verizon Boomer Voices program, we were given devices and products to test, review and blog about. We also share new Verizon programs through social media. Additionally, we were asked to host a party to share what we have learned with our colleagues and friends. Since we are writing about technology and how it can make life a bit easier, the Chief Blonde and I thought, “Why not try to have a digital party?” And that is what we did!

What We Did To Prepare:

The Chief Blonde is more social media savvy than I, so she gave me a crash course in RaffleCopter (which we used for the giveaways) and how manage several open Twitter screens at the same time. We were both familiar in using online meeting rooms, so there wasn’t a huge learning curve there.

After inviting Michigan bloggers to the party – via Facebook – we sent out a PowerPoint presentation,  which was used as a teaser, to gauge what products our guests were interested in, and to get the party RSVPs. Additionally, we took photos and downloaded images to use throughout the party. Using RaffleCopter, we were able to draw the prizes for the guests, plus we fielded some questions about the products before the party began, which was a huge help in explaining each device. We had notes on the three devices each of us presented, and opening/closing words. We created Tweet templates ahead of time, and edited them with the names of the prize winners as the party progressed, so we could posts Tweets while the party was in session.

The Party

I admit, I wasn’t nervous until the party began! As soon as guests began to electronically arrive, the butterflies began to take flight in my stomach. Then, I felt like I was on stage and would “mess up my lines!” All in attendance could see us through a webcam! But once I relaxed in front of the camera, I enjoyed chatting with the group. The Chief Blonde and I took turns presenting the devices, and whoever was not in front of the camera monitored the “chat” for questions and comments. The guests were so gracious and added so much to our experience. Everyone who attended received a nice goody bag filled with fun items from Verizon. And there were several winners of some great products, like the FitBit One, FitBit Flex, Tagg Pet Tracker, Sure Response, Belkin Digital WebCam and more.

swag1  prize collage

A whole lot of work went into this digital party, probably as much as with a traditional party – but we didn’t have to clean the bathrooms before the guests arrived! It took many hours to tweak and practice to make sure we had no technical issues, but the pay off was big! We both learned so much, and believe our guests did as well. It was wonderful to connect with so many talented bloggers.

After the Party:

packing day

My dining room table mirrored a warehouse as I was busy packing up the goody bags and prizes for our guests. After shipping all the boxes and reviewing the entire process, I have to say that the Chief Blonde and I had a wonderful time learning together. We made a great team, and had we not been invited to be part of the Verizon Boomer Voices program, we would not have had the opportunity to work together – and become friends in the process.

Have you taken a leap and ventured into unchartered technological waters? How was your experience? Feel free to share in the comments below.

 

I am one ticked off military spouse

military photo

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

The topper on the latest, most-blatant disrespect of our military members has enraged me beyond belief.

How could something as shameful as denying immediate survivor benefits to the families of deceased military families have happened? And yet it did, to the families of the service members who died in the line of duty since the government shutdown.

Blame it on the government shutdown? Really? How on earth did this happen to these families?

How much more political game-playing has to happen before this nonsense ends? Why must the military continue to be used as pawns in a stalemated, government chess game?

First of all, the description of our “all-volunteer military” is grossly inaccurate. Volunteer does not mean “free.” What it means is that someone’s husband, wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandchild, niece or nephew has answered the call of defending our country, and is willing to lay their life on the line so that someone else doesn’t have to. It means that our country doesn’t have a draft to pull people into the military. It means that someone felt the call to defend our country and uphold the constitution of the United States of America. It means while they are training, defending, performing first aid and going without sleep, someone else can attend college or trade school or live a normal life.

It means that they are defending their fellow citizens’ right to free speech, as ugly as that speech can be at times. It means that people can go to the mall on weekends, or attend a sporting event or sit with a six-pack and watch a game on the weekend. It means that others can be in attendance of their child’s birth, wedding, or graduation. It means that people can gather for holidays and family events – all while our service members miss these opportunities and miss milestones in their families’ lives, making sure that other’s lives are not interrupted. It means that the personal dedication of each one that takes the oath makes our military more professional, because they choose to be there – it is not forced.

Our service member’s families are displaced with frequent moves and deployment rotations that occur more often than some people rotate their tires. The families also serve, by supporting their service member.

As a madder-than-heck military spouse, I have had it with political games played at the expense of our military. There should not be a fear that payday won’t arrive, that benefits and retirement are in jeopardy, that commissaries and libraries close to make a political point. And above all, a grieving family should never, ever, be shut out from survivor benefits to make a point. Words can’t even describe the sick feeling that overwhelmed me when this news broke. What does that say about our nation? Is this how we say thanks?

It disgusts me how our service members and veterans are treated by our government and our country. Injured military members have to wait on a broken system to receive treatment. The jobless rate for veterans is deplorable. Why? Are employers fearful of post-traumatic stress disorder? Fearful of hiring someone who could be deployed again?

And the stereotypes of military families and their spouses are grossly unjust and mean-spirited. Military spouses are considered lazy whiners. Entitlement and discount seekers. Really? Do you know how hard it is to sustain a career when moving every few years? Or work, run a household and raise children under the stress of a deployment? There is never a moment of peace for a military spouse, they know the danger their loved ones face. Should we be left to wonder if our spouse’s pay will be on time, and, here’s the kicker – whether it is correct? Should our service members have that “no pay” worry on their heads while they dodge IEDs and bullets? Do you think that maybe spouses are not whining, but raising legitimate concerns and complaints, hoping our leaders will hear them?

If this nonsense continues, who is going to step up and join the military? And for those who are currently up for reenlistment – will we lose them and their much needed skills? Is this how we thank those that put the uniform on every day – and I mean every day?

It is time for our President, Senate and Congress to act like leaders and stop using the military every time there is a budget crisis. Negotiate – it is your job. It doesn’t matter what side of the political fence you are on. Someone needs to step up with an olive branch, negotiate and start resolving these issues.

It is time for citizens of this nation to realize what our military does – and why. They aren’t out there because they like war. In fact, if you asked them, they would prefer to keep the peace here at home. But they are out there anyway, risking their lives and missing out on time with their families so that others don’t. They serve for the greater good.

They know the risks of their jobs, and are willing to continue on, despite what our leaders do – or don’t do. Our military deserves better than what they have been getting lately. And so do their families, especially those who mourn the loss of their hero, who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

© Lynne Cobb – 2013

 

 

 

Straight from heaven – a message from Dad

fall sunrise

Given the current climate of our country, and our world, anxiety seems pretty high these days. I know I am not alone. For me, I can toss in mid-life adjustments, family circumstances and an insanely busy schedule to the big bowl of life, and mixing it all together, I can attest that I am feeling a bit on-edge and hyper; simply put – anxious.

Add another ingredient of life into the mixing bowl – my dad passed away a little over two years ago. I still miss him. He was my “go-to” guy when I felt anxious. He didn’t always try to fix things; most of the time he just listened.

The father-daughter bond we shared was very strong, and even though I can’t physically see or hear him, I think of him daily, and I believe he communicates in his own special way.

For instance, a few hours before my dad passed away, we experienced an early evening, mid-summer storm. Strong winds, thunder, lightening – the works. A vibrant and a most beautiful rainbow appeared shortly after the storm… and a rainbow occurred monthly at the same time – the 23rd day of each month – for several months after his death. Anyone who has lost someone so dear marks the monthly anniversary until it becomes a yearly observation. (Oh, this was amazing, too – a rainbow appeared on the first Father’s Day we celebrated without him.)

I will be going about my day, thinking of Dad, and then, one of his favorite songs will be on the radio, or one of his favorite hymns will be listed in the church bulletin. During times of incredible stress, I have seen Dad in my dreams. He says nothing, but has the most peaceful smile and always gives me a hug.

It is all too vivid and the timing is way too perfect to be called a coincidence.

When fall rolls around, I think of him constantly. Anyone who knew my dad also knew he had an immaculate yard, and during the fall, he declared a full-on attack of leaves. Yes, this is the man who would stop mid-conversation to go outside and grab a leaf off the front lawn. And yes, this is the same man who “slid” off the roof and broke his leaf blower because, yes, he was on the roof, ridding it of leaves, so that they wouldn’t land in the yard.

During Dad’s eulogy, our pastor shared these stories to all who came to celebrate his life. There was so much laughter. Seriously, who gets on the roof and, essentially, rakes it? One year, my siblings and our spouses wanted to bring bags of leaves and dump them all over the yard as a prank, so that when Dad grabbed his morning paper, he would be greeted with 3-4 inches of leaves covering every blade of grass. We didn’t, because, well, we knew that could have caused a major health event. We didn’t want to bear that burden the rest of our lives!

When we interred Dad’s ashes in a memorial garden at church, there was a hush of quiet as our immediate family gathered. It was a pretty fall day, and the earlier rain had subsided in the nick of time. Pastor was reading some Scripture, and said a prayer, and then there was a quiet murmur, which turned to some mild snickering… because in the spot where Dad’s remains would eternally rest, in that just-opened space in the memorial wall, what does our pastor find? A leaf. He wondered if we should remove it, or leave it there to drive dad crazy for all eternity.

See what I mean? I swear he sends us messages from beyond.

Well, I have really needed my dad these past few weeks. What I wouldn’t have given to just talk to him, which I still do. I guess what I really wanted was to hear his voice.

This past Sunday, after worship, my youngest daughter and I took a stroll through another garden at church. It was a nice walk, and we had just heard our pastor’s sermon about angels. The garden, still sporting some roses in the early fall, was peaceful and pretty, with a calming fountain and lots of stones with Scripture verses along the path. Halfway through our walk, one stone stood out to me because, of all things, there was a leaf laying on it. One, lone leaf, which, of course, caught my eye. Any time I see a random leaf, I can’t help to think of dear old dad.

Oh my gosh…I had to grab my phone and snap a photo, because I honestly could not believe my eyes! Straight from heaven – a message from dad!

do not be anxious

Right under the leaf, the Scripture verse read: “Do not be anxious about anything.” Philippians 4:6.

Teary-eyed, and a little shaken, I looked up, and whispered, “Thanks, Dad.”

© Lynne Cobb – 2013>

Let me know if you have received a message from heaven!