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Falling Leaves

May 26th, 2014 . by maria

If you have a wooded area near you, go stare out into it for a few minutes. If not, try to remember the last time you were in a deeply wooded area.

 

As I worked today, I paused and my eye was drawn out the window to the woods around our house. I stared out and tried to guess how far along the valley I could actually see before the leaves eventually blocked my view. As I pondered, these words came to me:

 

“You cry for the leaf nearest you when it falls, but you can barely see past your own nose. You cannot conceive of the numbers of leaves I have created and hold in my hand, and I cry for them all and rejoice in them all. When they are full and green and dance for me as my breath blows on them, I rejoice in them. When are gold and brown and they fall, I cry for them. For all of them. Numbered beyond the stars, numbered like the sands, for each one of you.”

The Fall of Rome

August 20th, 2013 . by maria

But, we love to think we’re secure. We love to believe that, no matter what, there will always be a safety net. We love to think that we deserve time off – we who spend hours a day on our computers or televisions or games or hobbies – we deserve a break from all this. But the truth is, no matter what plans and promises have been made, nothing is guaranteed, and the things you depend on will eventually fail. (You know this is true…you know people who have lost jobs, houses, marriages…) So, exercise your independence and ingenuity now, as much as you can, no matter what your situation. Be your own strength, and turn to God for the strength you lack. Enjoy your life, but don’t be lulled into thinking it can’t change; work to improve and sustain it daily.

Inspired by this quote:

“In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life and they lost it all – security, comfort and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society, but for society to give to them; when the freedom they wished for most was the freedom from responsibility, then the Athenians ceased to be free.” – Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Defending your Faith conference notes

March 15th, 2013 . by maria

A couple weeks ago we had a great conference at our church called “Defending Your Faith”. My oldest son and I were excited about it because the speaker (Ray Ciervo) had visited the church previously and spoken on Sunday, and we really enjoyed it. The conference was spread over 3 days, and included several break out sessions where you could choose which topic you wanted to learn about. I geeked out and took my netbook, so I could take copious notes. My son has since asked for a copy of my notes, and a friend of his wants a copy as well, so I decided to post them here. Actually I am going to post 3 things:

1. Teaser bullet points from my notes from Ray Ciervo’s original visit:

  1. Refute and Demolish strongholds & arguments
  2. Reason and Present Evidence (Acts 17:2-4)
  3. Adjust to your Audience: know what they beleive (Acts 17:23-30)
  4. Content: fight for our Faith (Jude 1:3)
  5. Always be Ready to Give a Defense (1 Peter 3:15)
  6. Certainty: So that you may knwo the exact truth (Luke 1:1, Acts 1:3)
  7. Pillar and Support of Truth (1 Timothy 3:15)
  8. Apologetics (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

2. Full pdf of my notes from all 3 days – organized and made all pretty. I even pulled in the full text of each quoted Bible verse, and put these in a special font. I also looked up the full and correct name and spelling of each book and author. Book recommendations for each section are also called out in a box. Where I wasn’t sure on something, I noted it. Where something was my own thought, I noted that and changed the font, so you can tell. Enjoy! DefendingYourFaith-ECC-20130301

3. Link to the ministries’ website where you can listen/download/app the podcast/mp3s of all the sessions, including the breakouts we didn’t choose so they aren’t in my notes. In case other things have been posted after, and you don’t see them at the top, You are looking for the items on 3/1, 3/2, and 3/3/2013 or titled “Apologetics Conference 2013”:
http://www.harvestnetinc.com/446185.ihtml

How NOT to get Junk Gifts

December 10th, 2011 . by maria

Every year someone in our family decides to start the “we aren’t exchanging gifts this year” discussion. There is always the claim to the finest motivations: being anti-consumerist, too many family members, having to much stuff anyway, etc. So, they tell everyone not to give gifts. Maddeningly, they wait until after December 1st to do it.

Now, I am not materialistic. But I really enjoy giving gifts. I like the challenge of finding something within my budget, that I think really fits the recipient. I shop (and craft) year round and store things up for Christmas. So, I have already gotten a lot of my shopping done by the time this discussion starts, which makes it sort of a moot point.

Additionally, I like to honor the tradition of gift giving which, according to my religion, was started on Christmas when God gave us his Son. Giving you a little joy gives me a little joy as well. So, no matter what you say, I am going to give gifts. I don’t require you to give them; don’t feel guilty if you don’t. But, I get a kick out of it and you aren’t going to rain on my parade!

Another reason some people don’t want to exchange gifts is that they don’t want to get stuff they don’t need. Hey – We’ve all gotten that awkward handmade gift. It builds character to allow your kids to receive things they don’t want and teach them to do so graciously. If you feel you already have enough character, I refer you to the paragraph above…allow the giver the chance to feel the joy of giving you something.

None of the above is really a reason to forego gift giving. If you really don’t want to receive something you don’t want, then what you really need to do is write your wish list. I know – you probably haven’t done that since you were a kid. You are thinking “but the problem is that there is not anything that I want!” you’ll need to adjust your thinking…instead of what you want, how about what you don’t mind getting more of? The following is a template that can be used by anyone of any age, and should result in a list that is junk-free, provides ideas at several price points (including free gifts of time/talent), and gives your happy-givers plenty of ideas.

And if you are the person who wants to give something ,but never knows what to give, you can ask your relatives to complete the list below to give you some ideas.

THE PERFECT WISH LIST TEMPLATE:
1. Favorite candy, snack food, etc. -For stocking stuffers or a gift basket.
2. Favorite baked good(s) made by your relatives.
3. Common item you are always running out of. (Printer paper, Ibuprofen, etc.)
4. Common household item that needs replaced this year. (Bath towels, can opener, etc.)
5. Place you shop at. (grocery store, discount store, department store) – For gift cards.
6. Online service you use (music, movies, tech, etc.) – For gift cards/prepaid codes.
7. Favorite restaurant(s) – For gift cards.
8. Charities or causes you support. -For them to give/serve in your honor.
9. Activity you enjoy/place you go. (Place you golf, concert you want to attend, etc.)
10. Something you need someone to do for you. (Oil changed, shelf installed, dog walked.) – For gifts of service
ONLY AFTER LISTING THE ABOVE, you can list specific items. Be sure to list the size, color, brand, features, etc. If you have a link to a webpage to buy the item, put it here. Try thinking of:
1. Things you have been meaning to buy and haven’t gotten yet. (Bath mats instead of towels on the floor for your new apartment.)
2. Things you should replace, but have been putting off. (That tatty puffy coat.)
3. Things you think you would like but are afraid to waste your own money on. (That only-on-tv gadget that sounds too good to be true.)

When you hand out your list, you can always preface it with “I don’t really want anyone to spend money on me this year. But this is in case you don’t listen.” Oh, and, you should probably keep in mind that handing it out NOW might be a little late for this year. But there’s always next year.

Goodbye, space shuttles

July 8th, 2011 . by maria

NASA’s space shuttle program was born in January 1972, when President Richard Nixon announced its existence to the nation. (I was born that year.) The first flight took place on April 12, 1981. (My sister Amanda Lynn Fineran was born about a month later.) I grew up in FL, and I remember seeing the shuttle explode over our schoolyard in Jr. High. I remember watching TV and seeing the ISS first docking with a shuttle…it was amazing. We have never known a world without a US space shuttle program. It is the end of an era. I feel like crying.

quotes

May 12th, 2011 . by maria

“My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind.”
–William James, The Principles of Psychology, Vol.1

 Initiative isn’t given, you take it. The amazing thing is that unlike taking an apple or a chocolate bar, there’s no loss to the rest of us. After you take it, we all benefit. There’s one other thing you can take at work, easily and with approval: responsibility. In fact, they sort of have to go together. One without the other is a mess.
Seth Godin

Atheism is such an intolerant religion.
Orson Scott Card

You can never get enough of what you don’t really need to make you happy (Eric Hoffer).

Lloyd Shearer used to write this as a New Years resolution in Parade magazine:
“Be compassionate with the striving, tender with young and the aged, tolerant of the wrong and the weak. You will have been all of these in your lifetime.”

As Elizabethan poet and statesman Fulke Greville has written, “Our companions please us less from the charms we find in their conversation than from those they find in ours.”

William Morris admonished, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

 

In a long distance race, everyone gets tired. The winner is the runner who figures out where to put the tired, figures out how to store it away until after the race is over. Sure, he’s tired. Everyone is. That’s not the point. The point is to run. – Seth Godin

Nietzche explained it well: “The end of a melody is not its goal; but nonetheless, if the melody had not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable.”

Have you ever heard a piano played by a young student, and then played by the master teacher? Or seen shop tools handled by a middle school student, and then handled by a master craftsman? What a difference the same tools make in the proper hands. – Anonymous, http://infoworld.com/d/adventures-in-it/guess-who-finally-quit-smoking-763?page=0,1

If you’re not the one creating the change, perhaps it’s time to start. – Seth Godin

The realistic pictures can’t show anyone why they would want the better thing, whatever it is. The better-ness parts are all on the inside, just like people.
– Anthony Zuppero, “To Inhabit the Solar System”

Successful zealots don’t argue to win. They argue to move the goalposts and to make it appear sane to do so. – Seth Godin

As George Orwell observed, “But what is work and what is not work? Is it work to dig, to carpenter, to plant trees, to fell trees, to ride, to fish, to hunt, to feed chickens, to play the piano, to take photographs, to build a house, to cook, to sew, to trim hats, to mend motor bicycles? All of these things are work to somebody, and all of them are play to somebody.”

The less a project or task or opportunity at work feels like the sort of thing you would do if this is just a job, the more you should do it. – Seth Godin

Nearly everyone in the room was idealistic in this way. They would not be
here if they did not harbor some kind of irrational illusion about the
compatibility between humans and space. They believed that whatever we
wanted to do would be completely doable. All we needed was the decision to
do it. Unrealistic as it was, the concept of us doing whatever we imagined
was ok. After all, at least two people who actually walked on the moon
were here at this meeting.
– Anthony Zuppero, “To Inhabit The Solar System”

Thoughts on a traffic jam

April 15th, 2011 . by maria

I was delayed leaving work today, trying to get just a few more things done. Then I had to spend some time parked on the turnpike today. Not exactly what you expect, or want, to be doing on an afternoon as beautiful and sunny as today. I was mildly entertained by the games and internet on my phone, posting my status on facebook, and being perfectly willing to drive off having only learned that I was fortunate to have a smartphone.

We got moving. We struggled down the road, jostling for position. We passed the accident. We’ll just say that when it ends with a box truck and a semi being nearly unrecognizable, it can’t be good. I realized that if I had not been delayed, I could have been caught in the middle of that mess. After all, I often spend an hour and a half every day hurtling down the roadway at over 50 miles an hour, with only a little white line separating my car from a very big truck also speeding down the road. It’s dangerous, the tolerances are small, our protections are few. It’s a miracle we all survive.

Thoughts like these are nothing new for me. I grew up singing along to Amy Grant:
  God only knows the times my life was threatened just today.
  A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way.
  Near misses all around me, accidents unknown,
  Though I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home.

I also read  Frank E. Peretti’s This Present Darkness. His car scenes with angels creating a bit of car trouble mischief to help arrange for two people to meet, and another with angels and demons battling over the fate of a van carrying a believer escaping her captors, paint the roadways as a more spiritual place than you might imagine.

Then there was the time I had a real-life near miss when my friend Kelly’s car inexplicably slipped out of gear, and she pulled us off the road just seconds before a huge roadsign flew out of the back of a workman’s truck. Who knows what would have happened?

I don’t believe in coincidence. My heart goes out to those who were in this horrible accident. But I wonder how many times we are spared from a similar fate. And how many times it is the other little, annoying delays that God uses to save our lives. Next time you’re behind a slow driver who you just can’t seem to pass, consider that God may have a perfectly good reason for slowing you down.

lotus knows – how to change the world

May 13th, 2010 . by maria
Since I don’t travel much, I haven’t gotten to see the posters in airports, or signs on cabs. This is my first “Lotus Knows sighting” in the wild. And it is a GREAT placement!
lotusknows

lotusknows

a couple of recent cards

March 10th, 2010 . by maria

consolation-front

consolation-inside

congratulations

invitation "epic win party"

Party Theme: “Epic Win”

March 10th, 2010 . by maria

When my son told me he wanted his party theme to be “Epic Win”, I had no idea how I could turn that into a theme. But, after working together a bit, I think we worked it out. Here’s what we did:

Invitation: we found a picture of Chuck Norris made into a faux inspirational poster with the caption “Epic Win”. This was perfect, as the boys have this game of saying “who would win, X or Chuck Norris” and the winner is always Chuck Norris. We wrote out a lot of the invitation in txt slang, like the LOLcats captions. I used black and “windows blue”, plus stars and squares, as a visual theme.

Decorations: We generally use the same ones over and over. This includes hanging large gift bags and re-inflated foil balloons. Fortunately, most of these had blue or black or stars. I also added some blue square beads in some of the hanging decorations, and a blue plastic $1 tablecloth on my main table. I had a black card table as well. We had a dual screen desktop setup front and center in the party space. If I had more time, I thought of printing and hanging the main screen of popular websites, such as facebook, google, etc. It didn’t matter with this crowd, but it would have been a theme reinforcer.

Goody bags: Notepads and bubbles with the theme paper glued on them. Cube picture frames. LOLcats bouncy balls (kitten bouncy balls from OrientalTrading.com). Psychadelic erasers. Black binder clips. A few other misc things.

Photos: I usually take a picture of each child with the birthday boy, print and frame it, and send it home in the goody bags. This year, I gave them each their own disposable camera ($4), marked with their name. I took pictures of my own, of course.

Foods: Pizza, of course. Gatorade bottles (mark the lids with initials with a magic marker, and everyone knows whose bottle is whose. Then you don’t end up with half-used drinks, and kids getting new drinks because they lost theirs. “I like pie” is…I don’t know, some saying they all seem to know from some cartoon or game. So, we had a huge chocolate/graham cracker pudding pie instead of cake. We had planned to have homemade waffles for breakfast, but the kids voted to have leftover pizza or pie instead, so I let them.

    Activities/Schedule:

  • Snowball fight (would have been sledding, but the hill melted off).
  • Pizza.
  • Coke and Mentos. I got the small plastic bottles, for less waste. We did this on the deck, so they could be as messy as they wanted.
  • LOLcats slideshow. To the tune of the Benny Hill Theme Song – no idea how they knew about that!
  • LOLcats Caption Contest: We saved 10 uncaptioned pictures. I gave each kid paper and a pencil and had them right #1-10 “like a spelling test, but more fun”. Then I showed each slide for long enough for them to write out their captions. When all slides were done, we went around the table reading their creations, and everyone voted on the best. The best one got added to the picture using a photo editing program, and we showed the final products as a new slideshow at the end.
  • Warm Fuzzies craft: glue, pompoms, foam feet, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners combine to make cute little fluffy monsters. Surprisingly, preteen boys actually enjoyed making these. Pop culture tie-in here was tenuous…I think it was on the 1800flowers commercial?
  • “Cake” and ice cream time.
  • Gift opening. (The gifts were cash, gift cards for gamestop, and Wii games.)
  • Mario Kart DS race and freetime on the DS/Wii, or in the boys’ room.
  • Rickrolled: halfway through freetime, I ran up with my laptop and said “you guys have to see this video”. When they all gathered around, guess what I played? Only a couple of them knew what a rickroll was, but it was funny just the same.
  • 11pm bedtime. We have two futon mattresses, and everyone brings sleeping bags. I allow 15 minutes or so of quiet talking (they’re gonna talk anyway) and then I say “enough” and they stop. Surprisingly, this always works, and I’ve never had a problem getting people to sleep. It might help that I also go to bed, right across the hall, and that the rest of the house is dark.
  • Morning is breakfast and more freetime, until parents come.

I had my son’s facebook page pulled up the whole time, and reminded everyone to “friend” him later. I also tweeted the whole party, and set up a desktop app to show the tweets throughout the party. These got less attention than I had hoped, but it reinforced the theme.

Result: Success. I thought the theme came across very clearly. But, the real success was mostly because my son has a great bunch of friends! This party was tuned into who they are and let them be themselves, and – from the stories they were telling their parents as they left – they all really enjoyed it.

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