Monday, January 31, 2005

What's New?

God seldom speaks to us in startling ways, but in ways that are easy to misunderstand, and we say, ‘I wonder if that is God’s voice?’ Isaiah said that the Lord spoke to him “with a strong hand,” that is, by the pressure of circumstances. Nothing touches our lives but it is God Himself speaking. Do we discern His hand or only mere occurrence? Get into the habit of saying, “Speak, Lord,” and life will become a romance. Every time circumstances press, say, “Speak, Lord”; make time to listen. (Oswald Chambers, My utmost for His Highest, January 30th)

I might be getting sick again. After two bouts with pneumonia last year as well as a nasty virus that took months to get rid of, two ruptured ear drums and laryngitis you’d think I would have served my time in the sick prison. I’m not sure if I’m getting sick or not, but I’ve had a horribly sore throat since Thursday. So far I have no other symptoms, but my grandmother assures me it’s a sign of impending doom.

My nephew turned one last weekend. It’s hard to believe that he was so frail and tiny one year ago. He is the biggest proof to me that God answers prayer and still works miracles in the world today. It’s easy to forget that with no one parting the Red Sea or calling down fire from heaven to burn up a dripping wet sacrifice, but it’s still true nonetheless. It is amazing to watch Evan grow and see how God has watched over every part of his life from the very beginning. I am so thankful for Evan and how God brought him to us.

I went to see Phantom of the Opera again this weekend with some friends. I loved it just as much the second time. One of the reasons this movie appeals to me is that it has some deeper themes to it. For instance, there’s the idea of letting go of the past to move forward into what your life can be. Obviously Christine was unable to let go of her father, even though he had passed away many years before. She was still clinging to his words and his memory as if he was coming back to her. And the Phantom couldn’t move beyond his past of being mocked and tortured. He lived below the opera house in fear and despair, refusing all contact with people. Maybe at first he needed to keep hidden, but there’s no reason he couldn’t have moved away and began a life in the world in some way. Even Raul’s relationship with Christine was built on events of the past. In fact, I wondered how their marriage lasted for so many years as it didn’t appear that they had much in common except for a shared childhood (very young childhood, too, as she was housed in the opera dormitories at the age of 7) and a fear (hatred) of the Phantom.

Another thing I noticed this second time around was something in the first scene of Christine in the Phantom’s lair below the opera. She wakens from sleep, walks to him and begins touching his face. She runs her fingers around the edge of the mask, and then pulls it off his face. He becomes angry and frightens her before taking her back to the opera house. What I noticed this second time around was that she did this very slowly, so he had to know she was going to pull the mask away. Yet he didn’t stop her. I was thinking as I saw this that we really want the people we love to see us for who we truly are. We long for others to accept us as we are, but we are afraid. Often when they do see the real us, we become angry, like the phantom so that we don’t have to deal with their fear, loathing or pity. I think he wanted her to see him without the mask and was hoping she could love him in spite of his features. His anger was his fear that what he wanted would never happen and a desire to protect himself from what he was afraid he’s see in her eyes.

Putting aside the past and putting away the masks we hide behind are two big themes in this movie and proof that good stories often hide deeper truth in the midst of them. If you haven’t seen the movie yet - go see it before it’s gone.

On another topic related to the Phantom, why are people so negative about the actor that plays the Phantom in the movie? Gerard Butler is certainly no Michael Crawford in the vocal style catagory, but I think he did very well. His voice is untrained, but for me that worked well with the story. The man lived in a damp dungeon underground. He didn’t see the light of day much if at all. He lived alone and was tortured with madness. I think Gerard Butler’s voice and delivery fit perfectly what the Phantom would have sounded like. In fact, I think his voice translated the madness and desperation of the Phantom very effectively. We had to watch Tomb Raider:Cradle of Life this weekend so we could see what he looked like without the mask.

I am trying to get on a schedule to do certain things on certain days. You know, like the pioneer women of old used to do washing on tuesday, bake bread on Wednesday, etc. I do better with a scedule and I’m trying to do too much every day. I need to start being wiser with how I’m spending my time. Not that I am wasting time, I just need to find ways to do things smarter so that I can free up some time for fun things. I’m overwhelemed with my responsibilities at times and can barely find time to put a coat of polish on my nails. That may seem like a trivial thing, but when I can’t squeeze out ten minutes for a coat of nail polish, I’m too busy.

I did some reading this weekend, which was nice. I also caught up on a bunch of Gilmore Girls episodes I had TIVO’d. I love that show. Love it, love it, love it. I also watched the second episode of the Apprentice. Oh my goodness! That was a hilarious show. Not that it was trying to be funny, but those people acted so badly I just couldn’t help but laugh. The girl that walked off looked like a lunatic and is so obviously not right for this job. Her team manager put her in charge of customer service and she was paralyzed. Why was she asking him all those questions to begin with? She should have said one thing - is there anything specific you need me to make sure I do? Then she should have done whatever she wanted as long as it fell in line with any specifics he gave her in answer to her question. She had no initiative and no clue. She was freaky-weird. I am not sure she’s the one who quits at the beginning of this week or not, but she should be. I actually think Carolyn shouldn’t have brought her back to the group. She should have been sent home. If she can’t handle it on week two, she’s out of the running, in my opinion.

Both teams did horrible jobs on their renovations, but the guy who ripped out the toilets (Brian??) was the worst. He did it without even consulting the woman who was keeping the budget. And speaking of her, I have two words for her teammates…duct tape. Enough said. Brian was rightfully fired, but I honestly felt that most of that team should have been sent packing. Except for one or two they are all sinking quickly. I need to watch it a few more weeks to remember everyone’s names and get them all straight. Once the pack thins out a bit, I’ll post my pick for final winner. I need to see them another week or two yet.

Sunday School class has been low in attendance the past few weeks as we’ve had snow both weekends. I’m sorry for the people who missed because both lessons were really great. And I’m not saying that because I’m the teacher. I’m saying that because I learned alot and am sure others would have as well. This past week we talked about El-Roi, the God who sees me. I love the story of Hagar and how the Angel of God came to her two times and questioned her about her circumstances. She began to cry and God heard her crying. Crying is such a personal thing. Most people don’t want anyone to see them crying. Yet times we cry are the worst times to be truly alone. How comforting to know that God hears our crying. He hears the sounds of our crying and sees the tears that flow. He is the God who sees me.

So this week is going to be packed with stuff to do, but none of it especially bad. I’m not going in to work early today. I am using the time to catch up on a few things around the house and with Flourish. I have a HUGE newsletter to finish this week as well as our events calender to do. I will be glad when both of those are done. I also have a packed weekend, but it should be fun stuff, rubber stamping, breakfast out with friends, party at my house, etc.

I signed up for Audible.com’s monthly membership and downloaded my first book. I picked an Elizabeth Peters book from the Vicki Bliss series. I love those books and will be glad to have them on Audiobook. I put it on my iPod and now I have a book that travels with me and is much easier to read! I listen to audiobooks quite a bit at work, so I may keep the membership if I can swing it financially. But for now, I’m enjoying the book I downloaded last week.

I need to get my Avon order placed online today so that I don’t miss my deadline. I have a big order this week which is cool. I wasn’t selling too much after Christmas. I wasn’t sure if I would stick with it as an Avon Rep but I’m enjoying it and I’m now trying to get some new customers. I am considering a special promo if you get a friend to order something for the Easter/Spring brochures. I’m still thinking on it. Any Avon demo’s out there who have any ideas for me? Leave me a comment or email me with any great suggestions.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

What I'm Reading

“Look unto Me, and be ye saved. Isaiah 45:22. Do we expect God to come to us with His blessings and save us? He says—‘Look unto Me, and be saved.’ The great difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and it is His blessings that make it difficult. Troubles nearly always make us look to God; His blessings are apt to make us look elsewhere. The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is, in effect—Narrow all your interests until the attitude of mind and heart and body is concentration on Jesus Christ.” (from My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers)

Still Nothing Important

Whoo-hoo!! It’s snowing. It’s been snowing for about an hour and a half and my road is covered with snow! Bring it on, I’m ready.

I’m downloading Mozilla’s Firefox Browser. Its very similar to the Safari browser on my OSX Mac at work. I love the tabbed browsing feature as well as the bookmark bar.

I haven’t heard yet if we are going to Tea in Fells Point today. We are expecting a few hours of blizzard-like conditions this afternoon so I’m not sure we sould attempt it. I’m not one of these people who won’t drive in the snow, but with forcasts around 12-16″ I’m guessing it might be safer to stay home. I’ll be dissapointed, but I am not sure I want to stay at a hotel in Baltimore for the storm.

I’m currently watching the season opener of “The Apprentice.” I’ll blog on my thoughts later, but the girl who’s crying and wearing those dumb boots while she’s laying in bed is already on my nerves. I think this show is fascinating and I love watching it from a leadership standpoint, seeing who can motivate their team and how they get the job done. I picked Kelly (last season’s winner) almost from the beginning. I’m going to wait until after week three to make a prediction.

Friday, January 21, 2005

A Study in Contrasts

I have had a huge problem getting a book I ordered from an online store with the word “Christian” in the name. My experience with them has been horrible and I intend to go without books if they ever become the only book retailer left in the world. They lied to me, they cheated me, and they blamed everybody but themselves for their own error. They even hung up on me when it was clear I wasn’t buying their excuses. I guess she was tired of my questions. It was quite an eye-opening reminder that just because an organization calls themselves “Christian” doesn’t mean they will operate their business with Christ-like principles.

Contrast that with my experience this week with Christian Book Distributors. It couldn’t have been easier. I ordered online, it was shipped the very next day and it arrived one day EARLIER than I was told it would be. How refreshing was that?!! Their shipping prices were very reasonable and the product didn’t sit around in their warehouse for several days until they got around to working on my order. Every time I have ordered from them I have received my product quickly and inexpensively and if there have been issues they have resolved them with great customer service. Their phone reps are always polite and helpful.

So I’ve learned my lesson. A sale price and a coupon doesn’t necessarily mean you will save anything in the long run. So I will avoid the other “Christian” online store and stick with Christian Book Distributors. I encourage you to do the same. (www.christianbook.com)

Now that my commercial for using CBD is over, I’d like to also brag on the customer service rep from my Discover card I talked to today. I won’t go into the mix up but there was a charge on my card I needed explained. When she explained it to me, I thanked her and was ready to hang up when she offered to remove it for me. I was surprised to say the least. I really owed them for this, but since there was some confusion she gladly OFFERED to remove it. How cool was that? She was nice, friendly, and I didn’t have to ask for a thing. She did it all for me. I love when things work out…

Bring on the snow! I am hearing it will be around 12″ in my area. I’m ready. I have lots of goodies, hot chocolate, and I’m on the way to the library before I go to work. I am not one of these who run out for toilet paper and milk. I don’t drink milk and we usually are overstocked in toilet paper. What I want to have on hand is snacks, hot chocolate, whipped cream for the hot chocolate, and books to read. Those are my essentials.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Rambling...

I’m having a great week. I was able to really get my life organized this week, getting caught up on all the things that have gone undone since before Christmas when I got sick. It’s nice to go through piles of things and work through them until your desk is clear. Wow! I love seeing a clean desk and having everything crossed off my list.

Not that there aren’t lots of things yet to do, but I am no longer behind. I am right on schedule.

I’m loving my iPod. I have been listening to tunes all week at work and I have had one my better weeks at work in awhile. I had forgotten how much more joy I have when I listen to good, positive music that encourages and uplifts. Or maybe I’m just trying to convince myself that the money spent was worth it…

Work is getting crazy again. We have a good many jobs coming through as well as a few projects that are taking up time. We are getting new software, as well as our OSX upgrade so we are renaming and adding extensions to our art and logos. It is a daunting project, one that gives me panic attacks if I think about it too long. So I’m trying to remind myself to focus on what has to get done today and not worry about all that has to get done by March. I’m such a planner, that’s it hard not to look ahead.

We’re supposed to get some snow this weekend. I’m not sure whether I hope it comes or not. I like snow as long as I can stay home, watch movies, catch up on my reading, sip hot chocolate and stay in my jammies all day. It’s having to go out in it that I mind.

Of course if it’s enough snow, I don’t have to go out this weekend which would be great. As I said I’m already a planner. So if we get the 8-12 inches they were first calling for on Saturday and Sunday I’ve already planned out how I’d spend them. I would spend one day getting ahead on some of my Flourish writing and Sunday School classes. I would also do some work on that day around my house, cleaning out a closet or two and straightening up my office.

The second day I would spend in my overstuffed chair with coffee and biscotti and read, read, read. I have a good many books I’m dying to read but haven’t had the time. I have been unable to read much at all since before Thanksgiving so it would be fun to have a read-all-day marathon. The problem would be though, which book to start with. Maybe I’ll list them tomorrow and we can take a vote!

I have to get to work soon to do some training with someone on day shift. Then I have a meeting about the next software I’m training people to use in the coming months. I think I need to stop typing ads and start training. I could move on to other departments and train them on their software. Not that I know how to use it, but give me a manual and I’ll learn it in a day or two. I’ve considered software training as my next career. Or maybe I’ll get Apple certified. I’m in love with OSX so I think that would be fun to teach.

So now I’m off to study my book for Sunday School. I’m really enjoying learning the Hebrew names of God. I think it’s interesting how they had a name for God for whatever their situation. Today I’m studying Yahweh for this week’s lesson. So I’m off to learn…

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

What I Learned From My Family

Since I’m supposed to be journaling this month about people, specifically family last week and this week, I am going to take a few minutes and write about what my family has taught me throughout my life. I’ve learned from them by hearing their instruction, and by following their example. They’ve all taught me valuable lessons and I can’t possibly cover it all in one night, so I’ll just hit the highlights here.

My Maternal Grandfather, Ken Haines - I learned to love God and to love serving God from him. He was a hard worker for two different churches during his lifetime. He served as a deacon, Sunday school teacher, church bus driver, church taxi for missionaries and special speakers, church bus cleaner, and much, much more. He also worked at a Christian Camp during the summer as a carpenter, building things, making repairs, etc. He was very dedicated to this camp and would travel there every summer for years, volunteering his time to make sure they had what they needed to operate their programs. He found such joy in serving God and it was easy to see.

My Maternal Grandmother, Mary Haines - I get my taste for expensive things from her. She once told me as a teenager that young women can go without make-up but they should never leave their house without lipstick. I’ve never forgotten that, and often find myself scrambling for a lipstick when I’m ready to get out of the car, just in case I bump into my grandmother somewhere.

My Paternal Grandfather, Clarence Fair - His name was the first word I ever uttered - “Pop-Pop.” I adored him when I was little. I remember he would take my bean bag dolls and sit on the steps to the second floor, pur the dolls through the banister rails and made them sing and dance like a stage show. My grandfather Fair lost much of his mind due to Alshizmers when I was still a child, so I didn’t have the opportunity to see him with adult eyes. I remember his kindness and gentleness. He was soft spoken and had such a big heart. He married my grandmother and took a great deal of responsibility upon his shoulders as my grandmother had five children and money was tight. He loved her very much and they had a long devoted marriage. I don’t remember them as being overly affectionate or loving, but they enjoyed each other’s company and it was obvious my grandfather loved being around her.

My Paternal Grandmother, Margaret Fair - This is who taught me everything I knew about love as a child. She was my only real source of security growing up and one of the top three influential people in my life. She very warm and affectionate, I always felt safe with her and she made me feel like the most important person in the world. She never complained about me to my parents and always told them I was “just perfect” when I knew good and well that I had not been at all perfect. She sent my brother and I home with “goodie bags” filled with pretzels and cookies whenever we visited her and for many, many reasons, her home was my favorite place to visit. Whenever we came home from town we’d drive right by her house. About two blocks away, my brother and I would start chanting “stop at your mother’s, stop at your mother’s” hoping my dad would drop in and let us visit for awhile. She taught me the meaning of unconditional love and I hope I am half as good at communicating that to those in my life.

My Father, Gene Robinson - My father taught me many lessons in being responsible and working hard. I was somewhat a late bloomer in understanding and applying these lessons, but I see now their importance. He gave me some of the best job advice I’ve ever received - “if you’re not happy at work you have to either change your job or change your attitude.” This lesson has been invaluable and while I’d love to say I changed my job, for the most part, I’ve had to learn to change my attitude. My father is a hard worker and has always been very consistent in his thoughts and ideas. I received my love of baseball from my father, although I am not as big a fan as I once was.

My Mother, Sharon Robinson - I couldn’t possibly write down all the things my mother has taught me. She is my source of continual inspiration and encouragement. She is a reminder to me that God can work in someone’s heart and life to bring about real change and growth. She has constantly yielded to God through the past years and allowed Him to mold her into what He needed her to be. She is a nuturer, an encourager, a motivater and an incredible wealth of knowledge. She is very wise and has great discernment and I’ve learned to listen to her caution and guidance. She is really the most amazing mother anyone could ever have and I am so blessed to have her in my life.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Nothing Important

Well, I spent about six or seven hours chained to my computer today. Thankfully since my mother bought me a laptop, I was chained in comfort!

I had a good deal of work to do for my Sunday School class. My new class starts tomorrow and I had to design a handout for the class and type up a prayer log and check in sheet. It take much longer to design handouts than people realize. At least it does if you’re a graphic designer for a living and want everything to look artistic, be legible and user friendly. So I spent way too much time getting it just right. I’m happy with the results, though, so I guess that’s something.

I also spent many hours (while folding handouts, hole-punching and cleaning my rubber stamping area) catching up shows I taped on my TIVO. How did I live before TIVO was invented? I am new to the Gilmore Girls so I’ve been recording all the reruns on the family channel so I had all of last week’s episodes to watch, two CSI’s, three CSI Miami’s, and two Crossing Jordan’s. Tomorrow I need to watch last week’s Lost and Alias and I’ll be all caught up.

As I type this I am importing music into iTunes. I am taking my time and uploading my favorite songs from every CD I own. Then I’m changing the genres to reflect what they really are as some the genres iTunes assigns to stuff is wacky. After it’s all imported, I’ll make some playlists and load it all onto my iPod. I can’t wait to see how much space it will take. I am guessing I will use about half of the space on my iPod, so that should give me plenty of time to keep adding songs as I get new music. I have a list of new music I want to purchase once I finish paying for Christmas.

Tomorrow I hope to post about my parents and I might just do something on my grandparents too. I have to think some more about what I want to say

Friday, January 14, 2005

What's New With Me?

I’m back! After more than a week of not blogging, I’m eager to catch up. I was away last weekend and have spent the week catching up from being away and from being sick. I’m finally feeling more like myself and have had a great week getting odds and ends done at home. I’m starting to feel like I have things back under control. Of course that feeling won’t last long…

I’m at my favorite coffee shop today - the Pour House. I love this place. The atmosphere is warm and happy, the music is great, the coffee is amazing and the soup is homemade. I’m not eating soup today, though, as it has mushrooms in it. How anyone can eat those things is beyond me. They feel like chewing rubber bands.

I’m enjoying my caramel coffee and working on my Sunday School lesson. This Sunday starts my new class. I’m looking forward to it, but I am not as prepared yet as I usually am. I’m hoping to get some serious work done today so I can get the first lesson done and the next few mapped out and organized.

This winter Sunday School class is on Prayer. I will be using several books about prayer to compile the study, but most of the class will revolve around the book “Praying the Names of God” by Ann Spangler. It’s a really good book and I am enjoying how she shows the names of God as ways to relate to Him in prayer. It’s opening my eyes to more of God’s character. I just hope I can effectively convey that in class.

I will also be having a prayer time where each table will pray together. I always give a few extras, so we will also be praying for someone from class each week at home as well as keep a log of prayer requests and answers. In addition, I will be doing occasional handouts featuring reviews of books on prayer, types of prayer, prayer helps and motivation and even stories of others who’ve had amazing prayers answered. Overall, it should be an enjoyable and educational class. I think it’s also important as we’ve spent all of last year reading the Bible. I think we need to more on to more of a dialog with God instead of just a one-sided conversation of Bible reading.

I am also finally starting my personal Bible study today. I have been reading my Bible every night in the Psalms, but I want to study the gospels this year in detail. I just received the last thing I needed to get started so I will be digging into that starting today. I hope to blog some of what I’m learning along the way.

I had a birthday this week. I’m now 35 years old. I don’t feel that old, and I don’t think I look that old. I probably don’t even act that old! But regardless, it’s true just the same. Birthdays aren’t all that exciting once you get past the fun milestones of 16, 18, and 21. I did have a good birthday, though.

I had two different birthday cakes, one that wasn’t really a cake but had cool candles on it and one that was a cake but no candles. I got lots of cards, many of them handmade from my stamping buddies. Mary bought me Season Two of Monk on DVD and my brother and sister-in-law gave me a gift certificate to Amazon. I plan on buying Season Two of Gilmore Girls since I bought my mom Season One for her birthday. (Also this week)

I got several books and some money as well. I am really trying to read more this year, and read more fiction. Last year I did so much research and reading for the Read Through the Bible Class, that I read very little just for fun. I’ve really missed it.

I pooled my birthday and Christmas money and bought myself an IPOD. Whoo-hoo! I really wanted one for several reasons and was happy to finally make the plunge. I am very happy with it so far. In fact, I’m amazed at how cool it is. I listened to it all night last night at work and didn’t hear the same song twice. Right now I have about 500 songs on it, but I have a good bit more to add. I will be able to add every single song I own that I would want to listen to and still have lots of space left for new tunes. I grow more in love with it the more I use it.

So I’m supposed to be journaling about people this month. I will be focusing on journaling this year in my newsletters for Flourish and am giving a topic each month. In addition, I will break the topic down each week into smaller topics in our weekly newsletter. So this week the people topic is parents. I will be thinking on that and journaling about my parents in the next day or two.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Welcome Back, Sidney Bristow!

The best show on television is back and better than I could have imagined! Alias returned to the airwaves tonight and boy howdy, have I missed this show. My thoughts after seeing the two-hour pilot:

I love, loved, loved the new opening. Showing Jennifer Garner dressed up in a million and one disguises is brilliant. It is really one of the highlights of the show and to see them all one right after the other was seriously cool.

Goodbye Rambaldi, I won’t miss you at all. Yes, The Rambaldi mystery was intriguing, but very over-done. We never received enough of a payoff to make it worth our time. I hope it stays on the back burner and while I’m sure we’ll hear more of it again, let’s keep it out of the limelight.

Arvin Sloan is back and is just as creepy as ever. I will enjoy seeing him get into the dynamics of Sydney and Jack again and am looking forward to keeping an eye on him. And what’s up with the water? He’s still drinking from the pitcher. I would love to know if there’s any significance to the water. Do we ever see anyone else drink water at work all day?

Sidney’s mom is dead. I guess. With this show, who knows? I am reserving my tears until I see the body.

I love Marshall. He’s such an adorable nerd and he has such an affection for Sidney and all the gang. You could see how much fun he was having being back in the action.

How long are they going to be able to keep all of this from Weiss? I don’t imagine it will be long. I guess it depends on what his new show for the fall does.

I loved the music. Apparently they are having each episode orchestrated this year. Some of the spy scenes were really well done with the music enhanced the suspense and drama.

I’m intrigued to see Sidney and her sister’s relationship evolve. With Sidney already keeping things from her I think she might just understand her father better in time. He’s done the same thing she’s doing now. Protecting the ones they love with lies is the Bristow way.

I liked the bad guy in this one. He was in Die Another Day and was a pretty cool bad guy in that movie too. I wished she hadn’t killed him.

I noticed Marshall’s reference to Mr. Sark. I am going to miss David Anders in each episode. I understand why his character isn’t necessary in the forefront this season, but he will be missed just the same.

Overall, an excellent episode that should have drawn some newbies in for the ride. It was easy to follow and was action-packed the entire time. I’d love to see some really good ratings for this show. It really needs them or I’m afraid it’s done for.

I have a busy day tomorrow. I have to get ready for a retreat I’m going on this weekend. I’ve been too sick and tired to think about it, but it’s here and now I have to get busy.

Welcome 2005

It doesn’t really seem like the new year has arrived. I have certain things I do every year on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and was unable to do them this year because I’ve been so ill. It doesn’t feel like the new year yet, and I feel somewhat aimless and drifting

I’ve been really sick and have no choice but to take it easy and let things slide for a bit. Luckily, there’s not too much going on in my life right now that I can’t move around. Other than work, this week will be an easy one. I’m trying to sleep in a take a nap before I leave for work.

I didn’t really make any specific resolutions this year. Some years I do and some years I don’t. I almost always pick a “theme” for the year that gives me something to focus on. I don’t really have a catchy phrase yet for this year’s. That’s one the things I usually work on after Christmas and haven’t yet gotten to.

I have sets some goals for my spiritual growth this year. I plan on really studying the gospels. I will be reading them through every quarter and digging into the meat of the books. I want to do some character studies of the major players, study the customs and habits of the time and learn more about Jesus, so I can become more like Him.

I want to read Brock and Bodie Thoene’s series that is set during the time of Christ as well this year. I have book one, although I think I loaned it out.

I want to try some new authors this year, especially in the growing inspiration fiction market. I also want to get back in the habit of reading at night before bed. I used to love that, but when I began working such extreme overtime, I was too tired to read at night.

And speaking of overtime, the biggest change I want to make this year is about my job. I have come to the place where I have to move on. I enjoy my work, and I get along with my co-workers. I love working just minutes from home and I enjoy the second shift hours. I will have been there ten years in April and enjoy the extra week of vacation and the perks that come with seniority.

But I am tired of the politics and tired of always being on the losing side. I’m tired of bullies and managers that step on everyone around them to get their way. I’m tired of the promise of revenue trumping basic human decency and compassion. And I’m really tired of doing work that doesn’t matter at all. Nothing I do makes a bit of difference to the world around me. In fact, 90% of what I do, gets redone the next day because it wasn’t good enough the first time. Everything I touch is done over and over again. In fact, much of what I do is re-doing someone else’s work.

I think my company is the perfect example of what we turn into when we let money dictate every decision. Good, quality people are exploited and those in charge make poor decision, after poor decision. I think it’s time to move on. The decisions made in the last few months have shown me a pattern of poor thinking and compromise that is sure to be more of a burden as time goes on.

Now, having decided to move on to a new job, the question is where. I don’t really want to stay in this industry. I enjoy being a graphic designer and am not averse to continuing in that field, but I want in an industry that seems to be making a difference in the world. I want my ministry to become my career and I want to spend my time on something that will outlive me.

I have some ideas of jobs that interest me, but am willing to let God direct me in this search. He led me to the job I have now and it has been a great opportunity. This is the time to move on, though and I pray that God will provide the perfect opportunity in His time. I really want my next job to be one that God has picked out just for me.

Until then, I am pulling back from my workplace on an emotional level. I will not continue to work insane hours and sacrifice my health just so upper management can get a bonus. I will no longer put aside my plans and goals to accommodate my boss and I will not feel guilty about it. That’s a big step for me, but I can no longer live a life that pleases God and do the things my company asks of me. It’s coming down to one or the other.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

2004: The Year in Music

So I keep putting off the music recap of 2004. I think I’m going to skip it entirely and jsut do an overview. First of all, I don’t always buy cd’s. I often borrow them from the library to see if I like them. This means two things, if I did like it, I don’t always buy it right away since my library has a generous check-out policy and I can renew quite a bit. Often by the time I have to take the cd back, I’m bored with it. Secondly, it means that I often don’t listen to the cd for several months after it comes out, since my library isn’t what anyone would call efficient at getting cd’s out in a timely manner.

So my first hesitation is that I don’t have a very accurate record of what I’ve listened to this year as I didn’t keep track of what I checked out and I no longer have many of them still out to listen to.

My second hesitation lies in the fact that I am afraid to write about the music I like. This is because I have very pedestrian taste. In fact, my taste is called into question quite a bit. You see, I am not at all the kind of person who will fill up her “best of blah, blah, blah” list with obscure “brilliant” artists who are one moment away from being the next big thing. And I don’t appreciate art just for the fact that it’s art. Artists who produce music with obscene language don’t impress me even if two million “knowledgeable” critics consider them genius. I always have to laugh when I read many of these end-of-year lists because I imagine music reviewers bundled up in a trench coat and funny glasses, skulking into the music store, looking for an unkown band to pretend is the hottest act around.

I abhor when people think someone is a “fangirl” if they like two consecutive albums from the same artist. And it really annoys me when someone stops liking a band the moment they become popular or profitable. In addition, when visiting Christian music message boards, I see so much that bothers me. The only word I can think of to describe many of these people is pretentious. It’s as if there is some list of “quality music” that is passed around to only the select few. The rest of us have to go by our emotions and our taste, which if they don’t match the approved list must be suspect.

I think instead of trying to write about all my thoughts on the music of 2004, I’ll just summarize a few things, keeping in mind that my taste, while probably poor, is fine by me just the same.

I think the Point of Grace debut was the biggest dissapointment for me this year. Not one song really stood out to me and I found that Terry’s voice was missed so much more than I first thought it would be. They sound harsher and more brittle without her. In addition, I think the lyrics were some of their worst selections ever. Now let me add that this pains me, as I am a big fan and have enjoyed their music and message so much over the years.

I was introduced to some new-to-me artists this year. I especially enjoyed Jeremy Camp, Bethany Dillion, and Shaun Groves. I gave Jars of Clay another chance and found I really liked “The Eleventh Hour” and couldn’t even listen to two songs on “Who We Are Instead.”

And some random thoughts about Christian music…

Will we ever see more of Cindy Morgan, Susan Ashton or Lisa Bevil?

Why does Micheal W. Smith look younger with every album? Has no one looked into this?

How come the music industry promised cheaper cd’s in October of 2003 and I’m paying two dollar more per cd this past fall than I did in 2003? Were they lying or did I miss it?

Why is it that my Minidisc player with moving parts will run for 56 hours on ONE AA Battery and the Ipod only runs 8 hours (at most) before you have to recharge it and it has no moving parts? Am I the only one that thinks that’s odd?

Why are the Dove awards so cheesy? Do we really need choreographed dance moves with every song? And why is the music that is performed so slanted to one type? In addition, why do we try so hard to emulate the mainstream award shows. First of all, they aren’t all that great to begin with. Secondly, it only makes us look like we’re trying too hard to play with the “big dogs.” Like we have to put on a dog and pony show for our message to be worthwhile enough to be heard.

So that’s all I have to say about music. I will be keeping better track of my music this year so I can wrap up 2005 a little easier.

I’m off to get some sleep now. Illness this week has kept me from writing about my New Year’s goals and plans, but I hope to do that the next day or two.
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