PicMonkey & Dancing

The past couple of weeks I have been playing with PicMonkey. If you are not familiar with it, you can add text, design and such to photographs. Since I have been on restricted movement with my broken ankle I have had some free time to play with it.

It is still a learning process for me, but adding some text is pretty easy to do. I access it from the website http://www.picmonkey.com. There has been quite a bit of bad news over the last few days so I thought I would post a pic I edited and it seems appropriate.

lighthouse psalm 433

And here’s a little video that has gone viral to really lighten the mood. Don’t fret…Just Shut Up and Dance!

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The Death of a Church

Today I attended the closing of a church I belonged to for about 12 years. It was where I was confirmed and married. I served as acolyte. My mother was on the Altar Guild committee. My sister received her first communion there. It was my spiritual home.

The pastor who served there while I was a member was progressive in my mind. He was the first preacher I heard admit that he was not perfect; he was flawed just like everyone else.  One phrase I remember him saying practically weekly in prayers “We are not accidents in time and space.” That was where my belief, my true feeling that God created each and every one of use for a purpose. We had a mission. Sometimes the mission is crystal clear and other times it is not.

I posted some pictures I took of the church and that it was closing. I have received many comments from friends and friends of friends saying how sad it was. Yes, it is sad. One person asked why it was closing.  Low attendance is the reason. People are not coming to church like they used to.

I am about to climb on my soapbox. People do not hold Sunday special or sacred anymore. Stores are open. Sports teams have practices and games. People, families no longer make attending a church a priority. It is more of a “if we can squeeze it in.” There are other reasons too. Younger people are not attending traditional church anymore because they can listen to Christian music on the internet and download songs digitally. They don’t need to attend Bible Study or Sunday School because they can attend book clubs or study groups in coffee houses or in an individual’s home. Mission projects can be done with any number of individual charities. Of course there is also the notion that people feel the church is hypocritical.  It is.

The hypocrisy of organized religion is blatant as well as the conservatives who tout scripture at the drop of the hat. In the past week the public was made aware of allegations that the oldest son of a reality show family had sexually abused young girls a number of years ago. Most of the victims – his own sisters. As Christians we are instructed to love one another as ourselves. We are treat people the way we want to be treated. That does not mean we can exclude a segment of the population because we don’t like what they do behind closed bedroom doors. Does this oldest son lose his salvation because of his alleged crimes? No. Once we become followers of Christ we are always followers of Christ. Anyone is welcome to believe. Yes we are to repent of sin and change our ways, but it is not up to other people to decide if we have done that. That, judgment, is up to God. That is a relief to me. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want that responsibility.

Anyway, the church as a whole needs to make changes. We need to be willing to accept “contemporary Christian” music. Open to having worship services outside, stepping outside the box in how we share God’s Word. To go along with that, we the people, need to show up to church. The pews need to be filled. It may be difficult for some people to understand but the church is a business. A church as expenses: mortgage, salary, utility expenses, landscaping. The church depends on the consistent donations of its members in order to pay the bills and help those in need.

If it has been a while since you’ve been to church. Go back. Go church shopping. Just because you were raised in a Lutheran, Baptist, or Catholic Church does not mean you have to stay there. Really. You have a choice. I was raised and confirmed in the Lutheran and now I am a member of the United Methodist Church. Think about what is most important to you in terms of a church home. How close is the church to your home? Do they have a children’s program? How about adult classes? What mission projects are they involved with? Is music important to you? Do they have a choir or praise band? Both?

It is very sad that churches around our country are closing, but it can be stopped. People need to start attending again. We need to be part of the process. Be part of the change.

Today I witnessed the death of a church. However, I have faith that a new Church will emerge and be stronger than ever.

Cancer SUCKS.

braincancer ribbon

Cancer SUCKS.  I lost a friend yesterday. Garnet Stevens II. Yes,he was a second. His father’s name is Garnet and passed it on to his son. We would tease him about that in college. We went to college together. He was a couple of years ahead of me and we were both involved in campus media.  He had a radio show on the campus radio station and he also got involved with the campus television station where I was involved. He hosted a talk show we had and he also hosted a serious news magazine show we did too.  When I met him I thought, “Wow! He looks like Ferris Bueller!”  Then I got to know him and thought, “Wow!  He IS Ferris Bueller.”  He was hilarious, kind and truly a sweet person. He fought brain cancer for four years. He started a blog to keep friends and family updated on his illness and to record as much of his life as he could. He was afraid he’s lose the ability to speak. His blog reached 250,000 hits at its peak. It became a source of inspiration and hope to people from all over the country and the world. It was done here on WordPress. You may have heard of it “Thinking Clearly.” The blog came down a few months ago I believe. Just a couple of weeks ago a mutual friend messaged me and said that Garnet’s wife was looking into hospice for him. The cancer had moved into his spinal fluid and chemo was not going to help. The end was near.

His blog generated a lot of attention and as a result he was asked to do quite a few interviews. In one interview he recounted how he was told that where his initial tumors were in his brain could affect his ability to speak and his sense of humor.  His reaction was all he had was his ability to speak and his sense of humor. He used those gifts to bring awareness of the effects of cancer on the patient and his family as well as to encourage, raise money for prevention and treatments and let others know they are not alone. He was a man of faith. He held onto his faith throughout his illness.  His motto was Keep the Faith.

There was a time when this news would have sent me into a dark, depressive tailspin. I have learned over the years ways to handle my grief and sadness. I cried. I posted the news and my feelings on social media and grieved online with friends. Then I did laundry. What else could I do? Taking to my bed and wailing would have been totally selfish and accomplish absolutely nothing. I prayed. I asked God to comfort his wife and sons and his family. I thanked God for Garnet’s life and the joy he brought to the world.

Garnet used his gifts to deal with his disease. I must use my talents to handle my sadness. So I am writing this post. I also have the urge to do a walk for the American Cancer Society. Today I will see what events are happening in my area. I’ll create Team Garnet and raise money to find a cure for this dreadful disease. These things will not erase my grief. Only time can hep with that. In the mean time I’ll keep writing and Keep the Faith.

This is the interview I mentioned earlier with my friend Garnet Stevens http://youtu.be/n21Qmot7AjQ?list=FLRgD9i3SKFN0NZnF0hVEZFQ

I want to hear your voice

I went on vacation, daughter is back in school and I need to get back on track.  Of course, in 6 1/2 days I am having wrist surgery (I’m not counting down or anything) and will get thrown out of whack again, I guess.  However, I need your help with a project I have been mulling over and jotting ideas down over the past few months.

One of my goals or bucket list items is to get published.  The project I am working on is an e-book about Caring for Loved Ones with short or long term illnesses.  Of course this may sound like a really broad topic and once I hear your stories, this one book could very well go into two or even three.

This project has been inspired by events in my own life over the past 3 years or so.  Items I am looking for include:

  • What resources helped you or your loved one with an illness or injury? (i.e. American Cancer Society, MDA, etc)
  • What was the best type of help you received from friends, family?
  • Did you have an experience where someone meant to help or say something encouraging, but it just came out all wrong?  What was it?
  • Was a sense of humor/laughter part of your treatment plan?
  • How did your faith help/hurt your experience?
  • What lessons did you learn from your experience?

This book is meant to compile the lessons I learned and I would love to hear about your lessons and hopefully we can help someone else going through a difficult time.  Post your comments below.

I will keep you updated on the progress of the book.  Have a great weekend!Image

Favorite apps & teasers

I think I wrote before that for Mother’s Day this year, my hubby bought for me a Google Nexus 7 tablet.  I just love it.  It has a ton of memory, I can listen to music, watch videos, read books, have my calendar, social network apps – it is just awesome.
I thought I would take a moment and share with you some of my favorite apps:
Mint (can be used on Apple and Android products and desktop) – FREE – http://www.mint.com.  This is a great personal finance app to help you track your spending and even set financial goals.
Evernote – (can be used on Apple, Android and desktop) FREE – http://www.evernote.com.  An electronic notebook where I keep track of gift ideas, scrapbooking ideas and wish list of products, blog ideas and notes, meeting notes from my volunteer commitments, vacation lists, etc.
Cozi (Apple, Android and desktop) – I use the free version.  There is a gold version you can purchase but I don’t see the need for that version.  http://www.cozi.com.  I found out about this app from my favorite FlyLady.  In the calendar I can assign the appointments to different members of the family, other family members can sign into the site/app and access the calendar as well.  I also have a Master Grocery Shopping List set up as well as a Master Housework list set up.
Youversion Bible app – apple, android, desktop – FREE.  http://www.youversion.com.  This Bible is fantastic in a couple of ways.  First, you can carry the Word with you wherever you go.  Second, there are several versions of the Bible (NIV, King James, Common English Bible, Amplified Bible for example) so chances are you can find the version you are most comfortable with and a wonderful way to compare scriptures among different translations.  Third, many of the versions have audio components so you can hear the Word being spoken.
I only download free apps at this point.  It is very helpful for me to have apps that i can access through the desktop as well.  Since my favorite apps can be accessed on my tablet, i am thinking that when my apple phone contract is up, I will go backwards to a “dumb” phone and use my tablet for my electronic needs.  I hardly ever use my phone as a phone.  It really is for emergencies and contact with my husband.  I do text on occasion with my sister and younger family members (stepdaughter and niece) so my next phone will need texting capability.
What are some of your favorite apps?
TEASER…
I have felt led by the Spirit to start my in depth writing projects.  So some of my blog posts will be shorter and much lighter in nature so I can focus more time and energy on these projects.  From time to time, I will ask for your suggestions, opinions on some of the topics.  Just a few teasers….a drama about Jesus and the two Marys (this idea has been on my heart for a few years and I finally feel ready to write); publish an e-book about caring for loved ones with short and long term illnesses; and a more recent idea which has me very excited – a series on the 10 commandments and how they are relevant for today.  Please pray for me that I follow God’s will and that my words are pleasing to God and His work here on earth.
Continue to enjoy this wonderful summer and remember, this is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Healing in Process – follow up

Prayer works!  I had a great appointment the other day with my hand doctor.  After looking at the most recent MRI, we decided the best course of action was a steroid shot.  The pain I have been experiencing is on the top part of my wrist or the dorsal area.  He called that pain “noise.”  The thinking is to quiet that “noise” and determine the source of the pain.  While doing his examination he pressed on something called a pique tendon and I experienced pain.  If the shot takes care of the dorsal pain and when I go back in a month, if that tendon area is still sore, that is our culprit and that can be taken care of surgically.

I am already feeling a huge relief from the dorsal pain, but still wear my wrist brace most of the day.  I do not want to over use it or aggravate it.  I am also being careful of that tendon spot.  I do not want to make that worse either.

Regardless, I feel so much better and much more optimistic and have renewed faith that prayer works and my healing is truly underway.  God works in His own way and timing.

I will keep you posted and my next entry will be more fun and easy going.  🙂

Love is Patient, Love is Kind.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV
A couple of months ago my ten year old was driving me crazy.  I have no idea why, but she was on my last nerve.  I made the decision to change my thinking and try to avert my frustration.  I made the choice to think and say over and over to myself “Love is patient, Love is kind.”  I jokingly said to my husband that I would have the whole verse memorized by the end of the day.  Well, I didn’t have it memorized.  In fact, I didn’t even read the rest of the verse.  1 Corinthians 13 is very popular at weddings but as I just read the verse again for this post, it is just as appropriate for parenting.  I have a step daughter who is now in her 20s.  Even though she is no longer a minor, I am still a parent.  I still worry about her decisions and shake my head when I don’t understand something she does.  I have to remember that no matter what, she is my daughter and I love her.  Nothing she does or says will ever stop that love.  That is the essence of this verse.  Love covers everything; it never ends.  When you love someone you don’t embarrass them on purpose (okay, when we have teenagers we like to embarrass them a little, but nothing that would result in life long scars).  We don’t resent our children or speak rudely to them.  We can be firm with our children and still respectful.  What an incredible example to for our children to see how to behave.  There is much to learn from this verse.

I think I am going to put this on an index card and post it them around the house.  These verses can carry us through every day life of marriage and parenting.  This could be great to mediate on the start of every day.  Let’s start today.