Friday, February 27, 2004

It is worth the wait

Some day I hope to be able to be as open about myself and my experiences as our friend Dawn is. I have a long way to go to work up to that.

What she writes about today is something I long to make you understand, because you are constantly swamped with the opposite message. The message you get from television shows and music and (unfortunately) some of the adults in your life - that sex is good no matter where, or with whom, or when - is a lie.

Dawn says it better than I ever could, so please read her post all the way through. All I can add to it is that I wish I had waited.

And yes, that means I am waiting now. I am honoring God and my future (second) husband by abstaining from sex until marriage. It may be a very long wait, or it may never happen at all. But I know the truth from experience, and I know it will be worth the wait.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

A job well done - Part II

The first training session went well, although I wondered about the lack of questions from the trainees. After the class was over I solicited feedback from a colleague, asking him to be brutally honest. And he was.

M's criticism was constructive. I now realize that the launch of this project was not well done. What I forgot is that I had been in many meetings discussing the implementation of this new software, but many of the attendees had heard about it for the first time when the class registration email went out last week. I had also assumed that everyone knew the meaning of the terminology that I was using, but they did not. So I spent the rest of the day adjusting the presentation, talking to other colleagues and preparing for the remainder of the training sessions.

This project has been a learning experience for me. For years I have longed for (and believe I had earned) the chance to be a leader at work in just this capacity - owning a project from beginning to end. Why did it take so long to get this chance? Lots of reasons, but what I realize now is that had I been given this chance earlier I might have found that I wasn't ready. The fact that I was able to accept M's constructive criticism without becoming emotionally upset was a very pleasant surprise.

There's a time for everything. The time for me to blossom in my career seems to be now.


Tuesday, February 24, 2004

A job well done

Today will be very exciting. I am conducting the first of four or five training sessions to instruct our department in using a new software tool. And I'm doing it while sitting at my desk.

We use a web-based meeting service that displays what's on my PC monitor to all the participants while we talk on a conference call. In about 40 minutes I will have trained 15 people in four states, without one dime spent on travel, and a minimal amount of money spent on the phone call and meeting service.

But what is even more exciting is this - I was given ownership of a project, a due date and authority to make some of the decisions. I will get the job done and will meet the deadline. As someone who has been prone to procrastinate and leave things unfinished (mostly in my personal life), this is a major achievement. And it feels great!

Yeah, me!

Monday, February 23, 2004

I don't want to see it...I have to

Several years ago I read a book which contained a point-by-point medical explanation of exactly what Christ suffered (I cannot remember the name of the book...I'll try to find it). I was horrified. I had always known that the images we were used to seeing of Christ on the cross with a few trickles of blood were misleading; that the crucifixion and the physical punishment preceding it would have left more visual evidence.

When I heard about the upcoming movie The Passion of the Christ, and the violence it would display, I realized that I was going to see a much more accurate picture of what Christ suffered for me. Frankly, I am not looking forward to seeing it. I expect it to be extremely disturbing. It is one thing to believe that He suffered and died for me. It is another to watch it portrayed. But I have to see it.

Here is a link to a Viewers Guide provided by BreakPoint.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

It's all relative?

Some time ago, in my twenties I think, I had a rather profound experience. Someone explained to me Einstein's theory of relativity. At some point that day or the next, I GOT IT! I was absolutely sure I understood the theory, and it made perfect sense.

But it wasn't long until I lost the understanding, and I could not get it back. I remember enjoying the few science classes I took in high school, but I was more into art and music. My science education is limited, but when I come across something interesting (especially if it relates to the "creation versus evolution" argument), I do my best to read and understand the concepts presented.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading a series of articles by Dr. Kelly Hollowell entitled "Starlight and Time". Dr. Hollowell is the founder of Science Ministries, Inc. (SMI) which is an education-based non-profit corporation addressing issues in science and biotechnology from a Christian worldview.

Reading these articles tickled a part of my brain I don't use often enough. It reminded me of how much fun learning can be, even when the subject matter is difficult to understand.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Another sure sign of spring

What kind of paczki has no fat, no sugar and no calories? The kind you only read about and don't eat.

I found this while looking for information on technology.


First sign of spring

It's raining! Oh how I love the first rain of pre-spring! I will probably get wet and muddy but it will be worth it when months of road salt are washed off the pavement. Even if it grows colder again it is so nice to know I do not have to use the ice scraper today.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Sad goodbyes

Nothing earth-shattering, but even little goodbyes hurt.

First it was Fannie May, my favorite candy maker that recently went out of business. They sold their recipes to some other candy company, but I haven't heard when or where the products will be available again. And who knows if it will be the same?

Now it's Garry Meier. In a contract dispute, Garry was yanked off the air in January. His contract officially expires today. Doesn't look like he's coming back to the Roe (Conn) and Garry show on WLS. If they don't get/take him back, I'll be leaving WLS entirely.

There are other candies and other radio stations. And the goodbyes may end up being temporary. Either way, life will go on.

It just won't be as sweet.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Do as I say, not as I do?

Because I do not always have the time to write every single day, I had started to draft some posts to keep ready to publish quickly. As I reread this post which I wrote about a week ago, a sense of shame came over me. This past Saturday I drove a group of young people to a meeting. I joked about not following my example as I drank coffee, ate breakfast and showed the guy in the passenger seat my cool tablet PC, all while I was driving on the interstate.

Let's be careful out there

You are the proud holder of a learner's permit. You're getting in your required hours of real driving with an adult (probably a nervous adult) in the passenger seat. You don't need me to tell you that driving is a big responsibility - you get plenty of that from your parents and teachers.

But as your Aunt I reserve the right to put in my two cents, so here it is.

When I was in high school, my friend Cindy was hit by a car that went out of control while the driver was drag racing. She died a few days later.

When she was 17, First Lady Laura Bush ran a stop sign and caused an accident that killed a classmate.

In 1955, actor James Dean died when the car he was driving - at 85 miles per hour - struck a pickup truck.

I am here today only by the grace of God. Once while I was driving a group of friends to an out-of-town high school football game, I nearly crashed into the median wall while I was looking down to tune the radio. Another time, I dozed off at the wheel with a carload of sleeping friends coming back from a youth meeting. My driving history may be clean on paper, but it is littered with too many moments when my carelessness could have caused a tragedy.

You can get away with a lot of stupid stuff while you are walking or sitting or rollerblading, but one stupid moment behind the wheel of a car and your life or somebody else's could be over or changed forever.


I'm sorry, kids. In the fun of the moment I made light about something that is deadly serious. Next time I act like an idiot at the wheel of the car, feel free to call me on it.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Sometimes it's the why, not the what

Three roses of a color I can only describe as almost-purple-but-still-pink have bloomed in their vase and are adorning my table. This was a lovely gift from a friend at work to many of the ladies in our department (he owns a flower shop as well as working in our office).

This equals about one third of the total number of flower-receiving events in my courtship by and subsequent marriage to the late great Uncle Dan (start to end approximately nine years).

He sent me flowers once while we were courting, on Sweetest Day. But he only did it because a woman he worked with told him I would be mad if he didn't. (She was wrong, but I loved receiving the flowers anyway.) Then in our first year of marriage he brought me a beautiful bouquet of roses from his Aunt's garden. She urged him to do so while he was over there cutting her grass. And once or twice he brought me a couple of blooms from our own garden, with nobody to suggest it or prod him into it.

Which dried flowers do you suppose I still have, kept in a glass potpourri jar along with a champagne cork from a special night and his wedding ring?

Gestures are nice, but it is the thought (the friendship, the love) behind them that stays in your heart.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2004

I just don't get it - Part II

OK, some of this is my fault. I should have taken the advice of my co-workers, who are computer professionals. I knew my virus protection/popup blocker/privacy software was not installed properly, and I got attacked. Live and learn. I think I'm OK now, but I'm going to have one of the guys look at it to be sure there isn't something still lurking inside my PC.

But my question from yesterday remains unanswered - why? Why would anyone want to make a living by annoying people (unless it pays very well, such as when Julia Roberts acts)? I guess enough people actually buy products advertised in popups and spam to make that profession pay. But what about virus/worm/trojan horse writers?

I have heard it said/rationalized that virus writers, hackers and the like do a service because they point out flaws in software and make companies improve their system security, which in turn creates jobs. OK, by that twisted "logic", here are some other cause/effect relationships between bad behavior and job creation:

- Criminals provide jobs to lawyers, judges, court reporters, prison guards, etc.
- Drunk drivers provide jobs for police officers, ambulance drivers/EMTs, morgue workers, funeral directors, etc.
- Slobs provide jobs to anyone who has to clean up after them on commuter trains, in movie theatres, etc.

But does anyone in their youth dream of one day being a criminal, drunk driver or slob? Does anyone in their youth dream of becoming a virus writer?

It has been a long, busy week and I am having trouble sharpening the point on this train of thought (although I'm not too tired to recognize a mixed metaphor - sorry). So how about you give me your thoughts on this? Tell me why you think anyone would choose such a - what's a word for the opposite of uplifting - profession, and I'll post your emails.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

I just don't get it

This morning while surfing around, reading the news and other blogs, I was hit by a slew of popup ads, several of which generated downloads to my computer. I said NO to all the download requests, but by the time the onslaught was over I had eight new shortcuts on my desktop, lots of new links in my "Favorites" menu, and a new address in my "home page" setting.

I was able to delete almost everything, except a couple of programs which I tried to uninstall. I could not uninstall them unless I went to the company's web site and gave permission to download their uninstaller application. Well, duh, like I was going to do that!

What I don't get is this - why would anyone want to make a living like this? Producing a product (or a virus or worm or pop up ad or spam) that general society hates and deliverying it in a stealth manner? It's dishonest, deceiving and shameful. I guess these people don't have any shame.

I've got more to say on this, but I just got hit by the popup cluster bomb again. Better go take care of it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

I'm so popular, I'm universal!

I have never considered myself "popular", not in the sense that everybody in high school knew my name - like the homecoming queen or the student council president. I don't even know how popular this blog is, and I don't really care (I believe that if I write something somebody needs to read, God will guide them here, even if it is just once).

But I am very happy to be popular for something I have absolutely no control over or have made any conscious contribution to. Actually, it's not me that's popular, it's my blood. My type is "O negative" which can be given "universally", meaning anyone who needs blood can receive mine without the side effects that come from mixing other types of blood. You thought Everybody Loves Raymond? Ha! EVERYBODY loves my blood type!

So last night I donated a pint and made an appointment for my next donation. (An eligible donor can give blood every 56 days.)

Blood is one of those things you don't think about unless you are suddenly losing yours (bread knife slips, bad paper cut) or you or someone you love needs some. But if you are at least 17, and are in good health, consider becoming a regular blood donor. It doesn't take much time (about an hour total), they let you watch TV (next time I want to donate while Friends is on) and you get free juice and cookies afterwards (mmmm...Oreos and apple juice).

For more information about giving blood, visit LifeSource or the American Red Cross.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Would they be surprised?

Last night I was going through some papers, trying to catch up on my church/youth club work. I came across the notebook I used at last summer's Youth Gathering.

I re-read pages and pages of notes I took while listening to the various speakers. I didn't do such a great job with the notes, it seems, because I did not write down the name of the speaker who left us with this gem:

"You are the only Jesus some people will ever meet."

As Christians, we are a walking representation of Jesus. Everything we do and everything we say reflects our faith to the people around us.

"You're a Christian? You're kidding!" I don't remember who said it to me, but it was within the last few years, and it was like a slap in the face! What was I projecting to the world at that time to make that person so surprised?

Would the people around you be surprised to find out that you are a Christian?

Monday, February 09, 2004

When all mail was snail mail - Part II

Read Part I

If I lived with regrets (which I try not to do because they just waste time), I would have a serious one with regard to some letters.

My boyfriend the last year of high school was J, who was going to college about 10,000 miles away at the time (at least it seemed that far). He was an excellent letter writer. We exchanged at least one letter a week, if not more, from the time we first became friends until we broke up right after my graduation.

Those letters were filled with news of our days, thoughts and opinions, hopes for the future, and expressions of our feelings. And J was not only good at writing letters, but he could pick out the perfect greeting card as well. I always kept his letters and cards in a special place, so I could take them out and read them whenever I was lonely for him and my heart needed lifting.

But when we broke up - actually, when he broke up with me so he could be with someone else - those letters became a reminder of the pain. For almost a year I grieved the loss of his love, reading his letters over and over. One day I realized that I was never going to get over it unless I stopped reading the letters. I tried to hide them in an inconvenient place, but kept going back to them. So finally I threw them out. It was the only way. And it worked. But those letters are gone forever.

The only thing I have left from J is a beautiful Easter card with a poem on it about living life one day at a time, and the passage he wrote in my junior yearbook in which he first declared his love for me. Oh, and I also have his friendship.

You see, by finding a way to get over our breakup, I was able to re-open the door to a friendship that lasts today. J and his lovely wife K (also an old friend who is, thankfully, not the girl he left me for) live with their daughters about a three hour drive from here. We don't get to see each other often, but when we do the love of friendship is still there. The pain is gone.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

When all mail was snail mail

Larry at Out of the Blue writes about some cards and letters he found in an old cigar box he bought at an auction.

It made me think about all the letters I have written in my life, where they might be right now, and who may read them some day in the future.

WARNING - WIWYA (When I Was Your Age) Moment

Back when I was in school there was no such thing as email, no Internet, no personal computers. When we wrote letters it was in the format of what is now called "snail mail"...pen on paper, placed in an envelope, delivery paid for by a stamp that you had to lick (pre-pre-glued).

My geographically widespread circle of friends wrote a lot of letters to each other in those days. My Dad's advice was to be careful about what I put on paper, because it lasts and you never know who will read it someday.

Today I do most of my communicating by email. Emails are written, sent, read and eventually deleted. Their existence ends, electrons or bits or whatever once held together to form words now scattered in cyberspace.

Not all technological advances are 100% good.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

A birthday card

You are my role model and my friend. You could not be more dear to me if you were actually (instead of just virtually) my mother.

Happy Birthday, Aunt Ginny. I love you!

Friday, February 06, 2004

This LAN is my LAN

The coaxial cable's connected to the modem;
the modem's connected to the router;
the router's connected to the desktop pc
the laptop PC
I what I have here is a LAN (Local Area Network) in my very own home.

I didn't go with a wireless router because I honestly cannot see myself working on my laptop while sitting on the deck or outside on the lawn. The deck furniture is very uncomfortable, and I rarely go out on the lawn at all, and if I did it would not be to work.

The only thing I still need is a KVM switch so I can use the same monitor, keyboard and mouse for both computers, and just switch between them.

What does all this mean? Only that in the years I have been working with computer guys I have picked up just enough technical knowledge to be dangerous.

Special thanks to my friend and network guru Rob, for walking me through the router set up this morning. Mwuah!

Thursday, February 05, 2004

The big turn off

Our friend Scott at Some Christian Guy is giving up TV.

My own one year anniversary without TV is this week. I remember because the last thing I watched was the over-and-over again coverage of the disintegration of the space shuttle.

What I have noticed since then is that TVs are everywhere...even my grocery store sells them! On many nights my library card is what saved me from running to the store for a TV and a box of Suzy Qs. Funny how both television and Suzy Qs are temporarily satisfying, but not very nourishing.

I am not suggesting that everyone give up their TVs permanently. I had to because I could not have a TV in the house without watching it. But I have friends who can have a TV in every room, all on at the same time, and still get work done.

What is your relationship with TV? How much TV do you watch a day? Can you do your homework or housework or anything else while you watch, or do you just sit and stare and flip channels? Write me about it.

An organization called the TV Turnoff Network is sponsoring "TV Turnoff Week" in April. You and your family may want to consider giving this a try, just to see what happens.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Does He care?

No time to blog this morning...I'm fighting off a cold and so took some medicine last night and slept for 10 hours.

In my half-awake state I read tomorrow's Our Daily Bread by mistake, but it's a good it and believe it!

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

A new link

For a while now I have been reading food for fish. It is a blog written by a young man from Seattle named Travis who is currently doing church planting work in Zakopane, Poland.

We were in Zakopane on our tour of Poland this past summer. It was no doubt my favorite part of the trip. We stayed in a resort at the foot of a beautiful mountain. Zakopane is also known for its crafts, and so that is where we did a good portion of our souvenir shopping.

I especially like what Travis has to say about relationships. His post from yesterday is the fourth in a series.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

They think we are stupid

Perhaps it was a pathetic attempt to sell CDs. Maybe it was a desperate ploy to make sure viewers stuck around for the rest of the game. Maybe it was simply inevitable, a natural progression of the slippery slope television started down the first time a bare butt was shown on NYPD Blue.

But here is what the Janet Jackson Super Bowl Halftime exposure was NOT - an accident. As of this moment CBS, MTV, the NFL and Justin Timberlake have all issued statements denying that this event was planned. The Timberlake quote has actually called it a "costume malfunction". That idiotic statement shows just how little this man(?) thinks of the people in the audience.

I am not sure which offends me more - the obviously calculated stunt or the insulting assumption by these "artists" and corporate executives that we would believe their ridiculous denials.

Whatever is said about this event in the media over the next few days, remember this...a person's true character is demonstrated not by what they say, but by what they do.

What Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake did can never be erased by what they say. I wish it could.

Super (emotional) Sunday

Every month or so it is my turn to be the lector at church. I read two bible passages in front of the congregation.

Last night when I reviewed the passages I was supposed to read, I thought I should probably call another lector and ask to switch Sundays. The second reading was going to be tough. But after I practiced a few times I thought I would be able to make it through OK.

As usual, I said a little prayer before walking to the pulpit. Lord, let me be your instrument. Let me be an effective proclaimer of Your Word. And please, Lord, I especially don't want to cry in front of everyone. Well, I choked up big time right about here:

Love is patient; love is kind...

When I had finally made it through the long reading, after many pauses to take a deep breath, I sat down and thought "Lord, I really didn't want to get emotional". And I immediately heard a response in my head - "But I needed you to".

Several people came up to me after the service and commented that they were moved by the reading. The words were not mine, but God used me to proclaim them in a way that touched people. And I guess that was exactly what I had prayed for.

I have always been ashamed by my all-too-ready tears. I talked to my Dad about it a long time ago, and he told me that it was nothing to be embarrassed about and that, in fact, he wished he could cry.

This was not the first time I have cried in front of a group of people, and maybe it won't be the last. If it serves the Lord's purpose, what else can I say but...pass the tissues.

Here is the reading in its entirety.