My Fitness

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

groupon and the movers....(my bad experience with Groupon)

My husband and I are really big Groupon users. We have modeled our spending around what we expect Groupon is going to offer. It was really useful with our impending move to our new house to have a Groupon for Movers show up! With me being pregnant and Felipe working all the time, it seemed like a good idea to Felipe to get the Groupon.

Before I purchased I called to verify everything and get in writing what we would be charged for extra and hidden fees. In the fine print it said "DFW metroplex" and those of you from this area know that sometimes Denton county is considered in and sometimes not. It just depends on the company. Since we are moving from one Denton city to another Denton city this was very relevant information. So I wrote an email and got this reply stating that there would only be a fuel charge:



I copied/pasted that from the email verbatim. Yes, she replied in all caps. Notice that last line that says there is only a fuel, stair, and heavy item fee. I called to confirm that Denton county would be covered and Brandi stated that it was and she looked up our new city and calculated the fuel charge ($120). I gave her our exact address. She has no excuse for not knowing from where to where we were moving.

We bought the groupon which included 2 movers and a truck for 2 hours.

When I called to schedule the Movers to come, the New Lady (I didn't get her name, but not Brandi) answered the phone and said since we were in Denton County there's an AUTOMATIC 30 min fee (that comes to $47.50) attached to the final price. I asked if that meant that since we purchased 2 hours, it would have to be done in 1 and 1/2. She said that no it is an additional fee. I would have been okay if we had just less time. But she was telling me that that wasn't even an option. When I asked why this hidden fee wasn't disclosed at the beginning, she said that Brandi is "in training" and I said that perhaps they shouldn't be letting someone who is in training handle their business affairs. So instead of sticking with their original position, they decided that they are not a company of integrity and are not trustworthy and will lie and cheat to be able to get more money from you. AND GROUPON HAS DECIDED TO STICK WITH THEM.

I contacted Groupon about the above situation and here is their reply:

Hi Lauren,
Sorry for any trouble with this deal.
On the original screen where you made this purchase,, we included a "Fine Print" section in the middle of the page just below the image. This section will always include all conditions of the deal that you should know before making your purchase.
In this case, the restriction in question is:
"Valid only within Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex."
I was able to speak with the business to confirm this, and they said they would have been very clear that Denton is outside of this area and an $80 fee would be charged. I apologize if there was any miscommunication.
I'm sorry to hear this will keep you from using your Groupon. However, since this restriction was included in the deal's Fine Print at the time of your purchase, I am not able to issue a refund past 7 days from the purchase date. Don't forget, you can always give a Groupon away as a gift (unless the Fine Print indicates otherwise) if you can't use it yourself.
Please let me know if you have any other questions or if there is anything else I can do to help.
Taylor B.
Groupon Customer Support

Groupon has decided that since The Movers lied to me, it is my fault. I figured Groupon must not understand. Even though I called and spoke with a Groupon customer service rep and explained everything, I figured she must not have passed along all the information. I re-wrote them hoping that with all the information they would come to a different position. 

Notice how Taylor says "they would have been very clear...and an $80 fee would be charged." I dislike it that Groupon is siding with such a shady company. Surely, if they knew they would not. 

Here is my reply to Taylor at Groupon:

I feel that you do not have all the information. If you did you would not have replied the way you did. 
Before purchasing I personally contacted the Movers and asked is they considered Sanger in Denton county part of the "DFW metroplex". If you are familiar with the Dallas area at all, you would know that some companies do consider it part while others do not. I explained this to the customer service rep I spoke to in the phone yesterday from Groupon. The lady I spoke with at the Moving company said there would only be a fuel charge. I was okay with that. When I called to schedule the move the new lady ADMITTED THE "MISTAKE" under the claim that the person I was in original contact with was "in training". She was not willing to uphold the original deal and essentially lied. Furthermore you, Taylor, are telling me that they are now charging an extra $80 whereas when I contacted them yesterday it was only $47.50. Do you see how dishonest this company is? Do you see why we are so uneasy trusting our valuables in their hands?
If you can't resolve this we will have to use them and stop using Groupon altogether. We have enjoyed our experience with you over the years and it would be a shame to have to let you go over something like this. But we can only work with companies that are trustworthy.
I will let you try to resolve this issue now that you have all the information. I would hate to have to share how unhelpful Groupon customer service has been 

We have not used the Movers yet. It would be a simple matter for Groupon to simply understand what the situation is and refund us the Groupon price. Even if they did so in the form of a gift-card that could only be used with Groupon, that would be acceptable since we use Groupon so regularly. I am very surprised at Groupon's position in this. I am a loyal customer that they are about to lose forever over one deal. I hope now that Taylor has all the information, I will be able to update this with good news.

Stay tuned...

UPDATE: Groupon IS the company I knew it was with integrity and respect. Once everything was fully explained, I received this reply:

Hi Lauren,
I'm really sorry for the trouble and miscommunication here. I've just issued a $89 refund in Groupon Bucks to your account. This credit will be available for you to use shortly, and you'll receive an email as soon as it has processed.
Groupon Bucks apply automatically to future purchases and never expire. You can see your balance in the top right corner of the page when signed into your account at
Thanks so much for using Groupon and please let me know if I can do anything else for you.
Taylor B.
Groupon Customer Support

Thursday, September 19, 2013

einstein's riddle

I came across this riddle of Einstein's on Pinterest the other day:

The claim is that 98% of the world could not solve it. I think that is either an exaggeration or at the least misleading. There's no way my kids could solve it because they don't understand English. So, if they are included, then maybe the percentage makes sense. But if by "world" it means adults with no retardation, than I just can't believe that's true. This problem take less time to solve than to watch a sitcom on Netflix. I will take you through it. Why? I can't think of a good reason. It just sounded fun.

I was sick when I figured this out:
I had a sick baby in my lap and a sick baby sleeping behind me:

We did do some cute shots though because we don't want people to think of us as ugly:

He's not exactly awake, just really cute.

Before we get to the riddle, do you know anything about solving a matrix?

No, not that Matrix.

Like Freshman High School Algebra matrix. Khan can help you with that. But it doesn't matter if you know it or not, it's just helpful.
Too scary and painful?

Matrices are too scary. But how about Sudoku? That's easy enough, right? Some of them, anyway. Here's an 'easy' one from some sudoku site:
Takes about 3 minutes, right?

Ok, that was the build-up. Let's take a look at Einstein. It is very similar to solving a matrix that a 12 year old can solve or a sudoku puzzle that your grandmother solved that one time. Take a moment and read the entire thing (or don't, it's not like I can tell). And then stop and think, "There is an answer. If I feel like solving it, I can. If Lauren did it, then every idiot should be able to."

There are 5 house in 5 different colors.
And we stop. We get a piece of paper and write down every color that was mentioned.
Too lazy? Fine, I'll do it for you:

In each house lives a person with a different nationality.
Again take a moment and write down each nationality mentioned.

The fiver owners drink a certain type of beverage...

smoke a certain brand of cigar...
Pall Mall

and keep a certain pet...

There's no overlap. It's straight forward. No tricks. Who owns the Fish?

You are given a bunch of hints and if you place them in a matrix, the pieces fall into place.

Oh, right, matrices (plural of matrix) are scary. We'll just place the info in rows and columns...

Start off by building little houses at the top of your page. Mine looked exactly like circles with numbers in them:

The numbered 'houses' are your first set of data...I mean, information...I mean, hints. It's just hints, nothing scary like data or even information. Just hints. Hint 1: there are five houses. How many houses? 5. Good job! That's right! So far, you're doing very well.

-The Brit lives in the RED house. 
Okay, we can't do anything with this piece of information. YET. We will be able to use this HINT in a little while.
-The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
Again, we'll just hold onto this piece of information HINT until we can use it.

We keep going until we come across:
-The man in the center house drinks milk.
Mmm, milk. Hopefully he has some cookies to go along with all that milk. And we update our Hint Sheet. Or "cheat sheet" if you prefer:
Then we read the rest of the HINTS. Are any of them immediately useful? Which one(s)?
-The Norwegian lives in the first house.

I can't believe they just gave away answers like that. Maybe a lot of my high school math class problems were just reading the entire problem all the way to the end?

Reading all the way through to the end, we can see that no more information is that easy. So we re-read everything looking for other hints that include "milk" or "Norwegian". 
-The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
There's no trick about it:

I think you could have gotten here on your own. The next step requires some thinking.
We note that that 
Brit and Red go together.
Dane and Tea.
GREEN is to the Left of WHITE.
scribbled notes on my paper indicating G (green) to the left of W (white)

You notice how one set is in one row and another set is in another row. Nothing else is in either row. And these hints are at the bottom of the page to remind me that I don't know which is correct YET.

I need more hints that eliminate bad data.
-The green homeowner drinks coffee.
That means that if Green went with #3, he'd be drinking MILK, so Green must actually go with #4, and therefore White goes with #5:

I'm glad we didn't panic or give up. The easy hint was the very next clue! I would have felt so stupid. Also, notice how we were able to include "coffee" in the matrix drink row.
Are there any more hints concerning color?
-The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
Not useful yet. But what else is said about Dunhill?
-The man who keeps the horse lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
Not too useful either.

Since that didn't work out I start making possibility association in rows. Like what I did with white/green.
For instance, starting at the top, Dane and Tea go together and they can only go under #2 or #5. So I would make a row with just that hint. But since Swede and Dog (the next hint) could go in many places, I don't write them anywhere, yet.
Why can Dane/Tea only go under #2 or #5?
Dane can't go in #1 because Norwegian is already there. But Tea can't go under #3 or #4 because milk and coffee are already in those places. That leaves only #2 and #5. It looks like this:

Pall Mall and Birds go together, but that info could go with any house right now. So I put it nowhere.

-The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
I can't do too much, but I can make a possibility row:

Notice it gets it's own row. All to itself. No sharing.
Keep reading.

-The man who keeps the horse lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
That means that if Dunhill is #1, the Horse is #2, and if Dunhill is #3, then Horse is either #2 or #4:
-The Brit lives in the Red house.

Can you tell me what's wrong with the above pic?
If the Brit is in the red house, and we know the colors of #2, 4, and 5, that leaves us with #1 and #3. But we know that the Brit can't live in #1 because the Norwegian lives there:
But note that since we have 5 colors and 4 filled in, we can automatically know that #1 must be the only color left. YELLOW. And what else do we know that goes with yellow? DUNHILL:
And what else do we know? We know that HORSE goes NEXT to Dunhill...

Starting from the top, again.
-The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
The Swede isn't in #1 or #3, and dogs aren't in #2. So #4 or #5:
Now I just fill in possibilities:
Bluemaster/beer should not be under #1 because dunhill is under #1, my bad.

Kinda messy. Are there ANY eliminations?
I'm just going to guess. Unfortunately, my first guess was correct. I don't know why I guessed correctly.
Let's guess that water goes with #1. I'm going to indicate that this is only a guess by marking it special:
if water goes to #1, then Blend goes to #2. Since Blend is in #2, that means Bluemaster and Prince cannot be...which means Bluemaster's only choice is #5...and Prince's only option is #4. Which also means that Prince and German go together, so German is in #4. Take a breath:

That means, Dane/Tea is #2 and Swede/Dog is #5:
Also, that cats is #1, and Pall Malls/birds is #3:
We read back over every hint. Everything checks out. There's only one problem.
Who owns the fish?

Here are my pages:
Bad first draft. I didn't realize this was 5x5. So I started over:

Let me know if you find something wrong with any of the above.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

latest sermon from my church

This sermon was so moving and convicting that I'm going to need to listen to it again.

It starts off slow, but really hits home.

Just follow the link above.

my notes:
Why was it convicting? Because we don't have any money. Because we have no money I need to work. Because I work I have to ignore my kids. I neglect them. That means they aren't potty trained they aren't learning and the apartment is almost always a mess. I can't prepare proper meals. I can't prepare lesson plans. I can't play with the kids. I can't eat properly. I can't exercise. But if this is where God has us, then I can only complain to him that I don't want to be where he has me. I would have to admit that I'm angry at him for not fulfilling my desire to be a wife and mommy and instead making me work and somehow squeeze being a mommy in there and just completely shelve the idea of being a wife. Any dissatisfaction and bitterness I have must be directed at God for having me in a place where he desires me to be for my own good. I must admit that I am a child throwing a temper tantrum that daddy won't let me have my way.

So my life is not anywhere near where I envisioned it would be. If you think I'm complaining of working hard, you simply do not understand and you can keep your judgmental thoughts to yourself. I literally see my husband for about an hour a day. Some days much less.

We've had a lot of good things happen in the past four years. But mostly it's been a lot of work with no pay off.

I am so tired.

And life just keeps getting harder.

Friday, September 13, 2013

humility and self-esteem (life under control week 6 day 5)

Christian, if you cannot name a single fault in yourself, then by what trait is God to shine through? If you have no weakness, if you do everything correctly by your own strength, if you have no sin, then how does 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 even apply to you? If you cannot name your sin, if you cannot say, "today I sinned by having a critical and judgmental spirit" (for example), then are you not living 1 John 1:8-10?

Christian, esteem yourself rightly. Do not be so proud that you cannot name your faults. You aren't fooling anyone anyway.

Can you still hear that voice in your ear reminding you of that time you wrongly spanked your child? Or that harsh word you spoke to your husband? What about that one time you spoke correctly but not out of love? Is your sin still chained to you? Christian, you have been set free! The accuser has been conquered by the blood of the lamb and the word of your testimony. So speak up and remember your justification and forgiveness!
Christian, esteem yourself rightly. Do not be so proud that you cannot name your strength. You are only fooling yourself.

God doesn't expect you to be perfect. That's why Jesus came. He didn't think you'd make it on your own. Do not be so foolish. He doesn't expect you to make perfect what he has started!

"You can accept your weaknesses, knowing even they can become platforms through which God can demonstrate His strength."

I suspect that so much of the pride I see in Christians around me stems from their lack of security and their fear of men. Because of their lack of security, they must try to shake other's security. Because they fear the approval of men, they must make sure that others do not have their approval. This is not the work of a loving Christian.

A loving Christian recognizes his insecurity and dives deeper into the word and finds that nothing can separate him from the love of God. A loving Christian senses his fear of approval from men, and dives deeper into the word and finds that the Lord is his helper and man cannot harm him. Do not pass judgment on your fellow believers (Romans 14:10). Instead remember to love, encourage, edify, and build up your fellow Christians.

And so Reader, this rather abruptly ends my day's dialogue to myself. You are welcome to talk to yourself this way too. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


I've had to put my Bible study and blog on hold indefinitely until God provides my family with financial stability so I can afford to continue taking off work to maintain them both. In the mean time, I'm casually working on my Scripture memorization:

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

(Philippians 1 ESV)

Monday, September 2, 2013

thinking clearly (life under control week 6 day 4)

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6 ESV)

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8 ESV)

"Every individual has value in the eyes of God. He is the one who gives you your personality and your gifts...God determines what gifts we have or don't have. Why then would we question the Spirit and complain or be depressed because we don't have the same gifts another may have?"

God's love is your reason to feel worthy. Not that you deserve it and not that God loves you because you are worthy, but you become worthy when he loves you.

[In the book, Life Under Control, the author talks nonsensically about changing your map. I didn't find it relevant.]

Sunday, September 1, 2013

inadequate self-esteem (life under control week 6 day 3)

There's a large minority of people who struggle finding value in their own lives. But you do, and they do, have value. What is the value of their lives? How much does their life cost? The very blood of our Savior. That's no small price!

"Value is established according to the highest price someone is willing to pay." We didn't deserve, earn, or pay for our value, for the price that God paid for us at all. God paid for it while we were still lost in our sins. "Without a healthy sense of self-esteem, you can become self-absorbed, focusing so fully on your own needs that you have no energy left to meet the needs of others."

Jesus shares in parables the value you have to him. Remember the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:4-6. Jesus left the 99 and rejoiced when he found the one. Jesus went looking for you. The King of Kings, the most important person ever, came to find you. Would he do that for trash? You may not deserve the value, but he has given it to you nonetheless.

Interestingly enough, the sermon (Robert Morris, Gateway Church) from this weekend is VERY appropriate to today's study. You can listen or watch the sermon by following this link that I will embed as soon as it becomes available.
Here are my sermon notes from last night (we went Saturday night because my husband had to work Sunday morning):

...God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)
What is the main story of the whole Bible? In one verse:  “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." (Matthew 13:44 ESV)
Most commentaries say that we are the man and that the kingdom is the treasure. How does that make sense? A lost and dead soul can't find something that he isn't looking for. He can't hide something that is bigger than he. And most importantly, he certainly can't buy something that is NOT FOR SALE and if it were, we certainly couldn't afford it even if we did sell everything we had.
A better interpretation is to see the field is the world. The man is Jesus. And the treasure? Is us. It is you. You are Jesus' treasure. Jesus became a man and came into this world and he bought the field. The field was given to Adam and Eve to care for and they lost it to our enemy, Satan. Satan doesn't value you. He only values himself. He sees no value and gladly sold care of the world to God at the price of Jesus' death and blood. But Jesus' death ended Satan's tyranny and Jesus' resurrection brings us hope to a life in Christ covered in his blood, forgiven of our entirety of sin. 
1. The plot of the whole Bible is about God finding you.

-look at the Lost Sheep.
-look at the Lost Coin.
-look at the Prodigal Son.
In all these parables, the lost item is lost. The coin doesn't even know it's lost. The sheep is dumb and as most sheep do was probably still wondering. The Prodigal's Father was searching for him and when he was still a long ways off ran to him and restored his undeserved place.
From the very beginning, God has sought his people. When Adam and Eve sinned, it was God who came looking for them
2. It's about Jesus buying you.
-1 Corinthians 6:20 "you were bought with a price"
-Hebrews 9:12 "by means of his own blood"
-2 Corinthians 5:19 "in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself" 
3. It's about Jesus hiding you.
-Colossians 3:3 "For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God."
-John 10:27 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."
-Romans 8:38-39 "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
-Ephesians 1:13-14 "In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." 
4. It's about Jesus rejoicing over you.
-Hebrews 12:2 "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross..."
-Exodus 19:5 " shall be my treasured possession among all peoples" 

That was the sermon. You can take a look at the other parables surrounding the Matthew 13 passage about the Kingdom of Heaven. The next parable is of finding a valuable pearl. And the next, of fishermen finding good fish and bad fish and on the day of Judgment the bad fish will be tossed aside. The object that is found in each parable is us. And in the end of days, those who have not been reconciled will be tossed aside.

Psalm 139:13-16

"As a person, you are valuable because God made you. As a Christian, you are valuable because Christ died for you." If you are not a Christian, then I would encourage you to decide to let God's love fill you and move you to reconciliation with him. Learn more by following this link or leaving a comment. 

inflated self-esteem (life under control week 6 day 2)

In my experience both personally and observations of others is that most people struggle with an inflated self-esteem. Or maybe "struggle" isn't the right word because they're perfectly content to have inflated self-esteem. Even in the church you can find that most people think more highly of themselves than they should. I rarely think of myself as anything less than absolutely awesome! If I have faults and if I have sins, I can easily explain them away. IF I even have any...see? Pride.

Pride is one glaring evidence of inflated self-esteem. Remember Proverbs 3:34 God gives favor to the humble. Another evidence is illusions of greatness (that can develop into arrogance). This reminds me of those seminary students, who may have just been eager and excited that they knew something and were able to apply it (but what makes me think it was more likely pride and illusions of greatness was their unwillingness to discuss things with anyone other than pastors and professors).

Interestingly, in 1 Timothy 6:17 we are charged to not let our riches and money make us haughty. What does wealthy have to do with pride? Perhaps it is the idea of "I made my money. I worked hard. I did what needed to be done, so don't come looking to me for a hand-out." Maybe since I'm not wealthy I haven't fallen into this temptation yet. But perhaps this is what wealthy people experience, lack of sympathy for those less fortunate and lack of remembering that their riches come from God to be used for God's purposes.

In short, the opposite of inflated self-esteem is love. Love is not arrogant. And we will be known by our love.