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Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

“Hello down there!  Slow going?” – Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride

Slow going down here in the blog world.  I have two book reviews to post, and a blog written up about laughter, even one about football. 

“This is not as easy as it looks.” – Man in Black, Princess Bride

My blog is published on two different host sites: Blogger and WordPress – neither of which have been cooperative recently.  Blame might be shared by my own laptop and internet provider, as well.  And when I have been on my computer, late into the nights and early mornings, my work has been directed towards by business, the one linked on the sidebar here but rarely mentioned.  It has a new name, new look, and even some new products coming just as soon as I can get the pictures taken. 

“I don’t suppose you could speed things up?” – Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride

Three years ago I started this business, hoping to learn a lot about business and accounting without going to school, needing something to do with the extra money I had lying around, and of course wishing to earn enough income to stay home full time.  Self-discipline is something I can do, but only with encouragement.  And sometimes, when things are just too hard, I actually need help. 

Large Mi-Re-Do Business Card

“Throw me the rope.” – Man in Black, Princess Bride

Some of my good friends have been encouraging me lately.  They also have their own business.  We had a long talk about believing in our products, about wanting to make sure that we’re not selling junk, but to be willing to settle for marketing goods and services that won’t revolutionize the world.  My brother asked me why I think people should have what I’m selling.  Questions like that make me think, and usually when I think, I get answers, which turn into the blurb about each item that appears on my website. 

Assistance has come in concrete ways, too.  Several of my friends have advertised for me and referred acquaintances to my business.  The friends above are going to print my government-regulation-required care and contents tags.  And my brother even offered to help with some HTML for my webpage

“I do not mean to pry, but you don’t by any chance happen to have six fingers on your right hand?” – Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride

One of the other goals for my business is to build relationships with customers (thereby changing the world – I just can’t escape that motive!).  Sometimes all it takes is opening the conversation, however unexpected or odd. 

“I’m not left-handed either.” – Man in Black, Princess Bride

Running a business is a risk.  Putting my creativity out in the world for judgment is scary.  I could lose money.  I could waste time.  But there is power in the unexpected.  That’s what I’m trying to offer on my website.  For sale is an eclectic supply of handmade and home-designed accessories that are unlike anything the rest of the marketplace has to offer.  Some taglines I’m using or toying with are: “Mi~Re~Do: Reviving Declining Melodies” and “Buy Mi~Re~Do.  Tilt your perspective.”  By thinking through the practical and aesthetic worth of my products, I’m trying to change the way my customers think about – and live – ordinary life. 

“Get used to disappointment.” – Man in Black, Princess Bride

Still, it’s been three years, and though I’ve sold several items on Ebay, and ventured into Etsy, I have almost zero client base.  I have designed several business cards, and been too timid to hand them out.  Marketing is nonexistent.  And my room is overrun with unsold inventory. 

“I’d just as soon destroy a stained-glass window as an artist like yourself…” – Man in Black, Princess Bride

Artists and dreamers cannot be kept down.  We will keep creating, used to our disappointments but pushing forward anyway.  Companies will succeed because they persevere where others failed, and offer goods that others don’t.  When Buttercup cried, “We’ll never survive!” on the margins of the fireswamp, Westley the eminent business coach countered, “Nonsense!  You only say that because no one ever has.” 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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You’re going to love the links I just added on my sidebar. I’ve been a subscriber/follower for at least a couple months on each of these.

Kelly, the Word Warrior at Generation Cedar, is a homeschool mom who blogs about current issues especially regarding family values and education. Her defenses of courtship, homeschooling, and God-run family size all match my beliefs and lifestyle very well. She also blogs her thoughts about Christian living, which I have found to be healthy exhortations for my life.

Ann at A Holy Experience writes like an art gallery, beautiful vivid words woven with pictures, truth, and real life. Some highlights are her thoughts on gratitude (“eucharistic living”), the ugly-beautiful, and time. Every sentence she writes is one I want to underline, quote, and share with people. I already sent this link to all my friends; the only other thing I can do is to tell you about her. Be encouraged every day!

As always, thank you for reading my blog. I want to invite you to publicly follow my blog and these others. Bloggers like to know they have readers, and the subscription feature of “following” via Blogger is one of my favorite recent inventions.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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And here all this time I thought my computer was my tool, serving me, doing as I told it.  But like a rebellious teenager, it thinks itself smarter than me, stronger, and more willful.  If it just puts off my instructions long enough, while it does its own thing, maybe just maybe bossy owner of laptop will go away and leave it alone. 

 

Alone to do what, you ask (as do the parents of metaphorical teenagers).  It might just want to be lazy.  The battery has already decided to barely do its job, as long as constantly fed energy from a wall.  Half the time my computer isn’t doing what I said, it doesn’t seem to be doing anything. 

 

I’ve tried all the things I can think of: defrag, updates, restarting my computer, adjusting my internet connection, scanning for spy-, ad-, or mal- ware, running Windows Task Manager to see if my computer will give up the secret obsession its hard drive has with unauthorized activity. 

 

Aside from being slow, online or offline, the other really annoying thing is that in the midst of its procrastination, I may switch to another window.  Exactly when I am most engrossed in reading or typing or filling out important online forms with passwords, the slow-loading window superimposes itself on my screen, interrupting and even hijacking any keyboard or mouse input.  What on earth is it thinking? 

 

My brother says the next big thing to be invented on a computer is a button that suspends the activity.  See, for some reason we both think that we should be able to tell an internet page to stop loading if it’s so long it’s virtually frozen.  But being frozen, the whole window, including the stop button, is also frozen. 

 

Is my problem my web browser?  Am I suffering from hardware?  My computer reports that it has plenty of memory and spends most of its thought on ‘idle processes.’  Maybe my wireless modem and my laptop are not getting along.  I’m certainly not getting along with this self-absorbed block of technology. 

 

Perhaps my problem is software?  I could have the wrong browser, the wrong network connections driver, something amiss in my security software, or even windows itself. 

 

My dad taught me to be loyal to PC’s, and I still hate Mac’s (do they have a thing for treating intelligent people who just want to word process and blog like children with cute bubbles and code names for basic functions?).  Is there a better option for me?  What’s Linux about?  Do I have to be a nerd to use or appreciate it?  Did I just prove I’m not a nerd by spelling it wrong?  Does everyone have these sorts of difficulties? 

 

(Dad works at a helpdesk, and often brings home stories of silly customers who had no idea what they’d done to their computers.  Not so with us.  Our computers produce the hardest of brainteasers to our expert sleuthing father.  We only have hard questions for him about our computer difficulties.) 

 

Any hints?  Commiseration?  Solutions?  Recommendations? 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Excellence is something that has been part of me for at least 15 years.  Of course, it came easy to me to be excellent in academics, or in Bible memorization.  In Awana as a third grader I joined my first Bible Quiz team.  At the time I was completely naïve, unaware of the competition or the tension or even of the possibility of winning.  The thought never crossed my mind.  After finishing both segments of the quiz, speed (like Jeopardy) and multiple choice (with paddles we raise into the air), my team sat clenching each others’ hands in nervous anticipation.  To our utter astonishment they called our team for first place.  The group of us screamed our way to the front to receive our medals and trophy.  And excellence in Bible quiz was my goal from then on.  

 

In a history of grace, God granted that I be on a winning Bible Quiz team for six years straight, unprecedented.  Everyone wanted either to be on my team or to finally beat me.  I didn’t stop working hard, because each year I desperately wanted to win.  There were no assumptions that I would win no matter what.  But I did think that if I kept giving it my all, I would be rewarded.  There was no second place, no third, no fourth – and certainly there was no place between fifth and fifteenth.  So when as a freshman I suffered my first defeat, it felt as though I had crashed into a lightless chasm.  It didn’t matter in the slightest that we had placed third.  The fact was I went to win, and I had failed. 

 

There’s more to the story, of the journey God continued leading me on through Bible Quiz until my senior year – and how I got to share the lessons as a coach.  But today I want to write about that concept of no place but first.  No success without the best.  This is a definition of excellence. 

 

I’m reading a book called Godcast (review coming soon of course), a collection of single-page devotionals written by an Assemblies of God pastor and radio/tv host.  In chapter 196, Dan Betzer writes about mediocrity in the house of God.  Now I’m no advocate of demanding perfection in the worship performance each Sunday, or of dazzling buildings on which no expense was spared.  Nor do I think that God always wants us to have a well-polished speech to deliver as Sunday school lessons, Bible studies, or sermons.  Sometimes He wants us to be the humble vessels through whom His message can be spoken.  And whether you know the words you’re going to say or not, every teacher should have properly studied, meditated, and prayed for what he is going to say. 

 

Yet the message is inspiring.  As a teacher, do I say, “Well, I read over the passage a couple times, and I have an illustration, so I’m all set”?    How many times have I as a blogger decided I didn’t feel like revising my post?  And what about as a Christian?  Do I consider myself good enough as long as I’m not really bad? 

 

Every Monday night I attend a Bible study.  Presently we are going through Galatians, and I’m wrestling with the implications of grace and Christian liberty.  What is legalism, and how should we reconcile Christian holiness with Christ-given grace?  One answer that seems clear at this point in my life is that legalism says “If I follow the rules, I am good.”  But isn’t that what Judaism proved impossible?  Grace is the other side, the side that so delights in the life bought through Jesus’ death and given through His resurrection that it delights to please God, not flirting with the line of trespass, but safe and free well inside the bounds of God’s righteousness. 

 

I can’t help but mention that this doctrine of Galatians meets a complementary parallel in Romans, wherein is found the association between faith, grace, life, and righteousness. 

 

God calls us to excellence, to the extraordinary experience of walking in the Spirit, turning aside neither to the right or to the left, each action born of faith and love and Christ alive in me. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

 

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Where have I been, and why haven’t I been writing?  For one thing, I went to Omaha: 

 
“They’re not from a different planet, Mama.” – North and South, the BBC adaptationThe YLCF retreat was a fellowship of likeminded ladies. We all knew that going in, I think. Our differences struck me, though. Sometimes we had to reassure each other that we were not from different planets. Ranging from Colorado natives to a teacher from New York, and the Midwest towns and cities in between, there was plenty to compare. A few of the ladies attending (including Natalie – remember that, girls?) even lived in Japan for a while. So we enjoyed discovering how the same values applied in different lives, different families, at different places and to different interests. Some of us are writers. Some love to clean houses. Students, teachers, wives, mothers, sisters were there. There were seamstresses and dancers and photographers.

By design YLCF is an ecumenical organization, a place where ladies who share a common Savior can gather to encourage each other without debating theology. We retreated from our own churches and lives, our everyday friends with their spiritual problems, from the pressures of our ministries to engage in a real life version of that unity in diversity. Life at home was not forgotten, for once, but nor was it pressing. We took our families with us, whether by photos or book lists or cell phones or real live sisters. I saw God relating our conversations to what was happening in our lives at home. I know we each came away encouraged and refreshed. God is at work so creatively in so many lives and locations. He is awe-some.

I have to report that the YLCF gathering was most unexpectedly, but actually quite reasonably, quiet. 15 or so ladies variously occupied shared quiet conversations about lives, families, and God’s lessons for the year. For a while it felt like twenty questions or the game where a character’s name is on your back and you run around asking questions of everyone until you figure out who you are. By Friday evening, between some sort of synchronized driving by which we left Natalie’s gracious home in a caravan and arrived at the Christian bookstore independently and from different directions, and the frigid parking lot just outside the base, we hit our stride.

For me it was fascinating to observe the humanity of our online friends. Natalie is a real human being with everyday strengths and weaknesses. She is a transparent writer, and I appreciate when she shares her struggles and triumphs, her reflective journal entries. Seeing her in action was different, though. Her dogs bark at strangers. She looks different moving: laughing, walking, thinking – than in pictures. You’ve heard of the widow’s oil? It didn’t run out until all of her jars and pots, and her neighbors’, were full? We experienced Natalie’s pizza, where every pan in the house was filled before we ran out! All roads may lead to the Christian bookstore near her house, but no maps lead to her home. Every one of us got lost on the way, some worse than others. After reading YLCF, that adventure gave us all a common experience on which to build.

Maybe you had to be there, but we all dissolved into laughter when Natalie was reasoning with the security guard at the gate of the Air Force base to let all of us girls stuffed into three cars onto base. I think he liked us, because he was very cooperative. But each car wasn’t really communicating with the others, so we were trying to guess what would happen next, what was going on – reading lips and hand gestures and then proceeding with trial and error.

Gretchen was mentioned often. We peppered Natalie with questions about the origins of YLCF, and how she and Gretchen met. I was most surprised to hear that they’ve only been in each other’s physical presence five or six times. Yet what friends they are to each other!

The weekend was about ladies fair, traipsing through bitter cold and token snow cover. Our experiment with blooming tea was successful. Our trips to the thrift store were totally girly. And most of us more or less stayed up in one little hotel room watching the four hour miniseries, North and South.

Saturday, my friend and I chased the sun home to Colorado, not ready to surrender the day and its memories. For a while it seemed to be working. We kept it overhead, and the sun didn’t descend very quickly. The weekend’s activity was reviewed aloud. Heat invaded the piercing cold. My friend settled in and slept to the soundtrack of Anastasia while steadily the light dropped beneath the clouds until it regaled us with a prolonged sunset.

Then the moon, rising early, pursued us like a lamp from behind. I caught its beams over my shoulder like a car overtaking us on the highway. Even that night, at midnight finally home in Colorado, the pearly glow reflected off the day-old layer of snow welcoming me from my back yard. It was the after-glow, the still illuminating remnant of the light of a lovely day.

For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” ~ Psalms 107:9

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

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Do you know how much more I blog when I know I have an audience?  Before I blogged, my friends received long, winding emails quite frequently.  I’d threaten them that if they didn’t respond, I’d keep writing, desperate to have some contact with them.  Then I’d warn them that if they did reply, it would inspire me to write back.  Evidence imposes reality on my realization: I write more when I know you’re reading.  I talk when I know you’re listening.  The substance is better in conversation than in desperate attempts at starting a friendship, or drawing attention: advertising. 

I’ve been looking at my life, and praying about what I see.  Some days I can’t do that; my prayers are focused on survival.  God gives us phases, I think.  Like the moon.  I love the moon: always there, always the same, almost always visible, almost always seen in a new light.  And the light is beautiful. 

Why do I have better conversations, ones that “hit the spot” via blogging, or with an eclectic group of admittedly eccentric protesters outside abortion clinics?  I don’t agree with all the theology, but we can pray together.  When they ask how I am, I can answer that God is teaching me about grace, and share a little.  They share.  I want to know.  Not just their stories, but the stories of my friends, and the people at church and Bible study.  But in the hallways all I hear is “How are you?” and all I can answer is “fine,” unless we were going to cancel nursery service, worship, and lunch.  Then I could talk.  That’s the beauty of blogging and abortion protests.  There’s no schedule, no interruptions that matter.  So I can’t be online at work…  The conversation picks right back up, no awkwardness, more forethought. 

In my prayers I keep telling God I don’t want to play.  I don’t want to play at life.  Gas prices shouldn’t drive me crazy; I don’t want to play.  Hard decisions aren’t on my shoulders; I don’t want to play.  It’s pretending to say I have the wisdom or strength to decide.  And at church, I am so tired of playing.  What I do there is superficial.  I believe in being there, and in making the most of what is there for the sake of bringing the body towards perfection (Ephesians 4).  There is something so wrong about the way we do church.  Why do we bother singing and praying and listening to lessons when we don’t even know each other? 

People move away or change churches, and we never talk to them again.  Why?  When they were at church activities, we admired them.  We enjoyed doing ministry together.  Their comments in Sunday school were challenging, and their smile uplifting.  They’re gone, and we miss them.  But there was never anything more.  We never met for lunch.  I didn’t know what they were thinking, the little things that they might say as commentary on life, but would never think worthy of a special phone call. 

I have a friend at my church, and we’re going to start praying together.  I’m really excited.  She selected an anonymous envelope to “adopt” a teen from our youth group, and I wanted to ask her who she got.  I wanted to enter into even this little facet of her life, and so many more things like that. 

Tonight I babysat for a church plant.  I sat with three little boys while they ate dinner, and the parents and friends talked around the kitchen island.  I care about the adults, but the kids know me, and I love them because I watch them eat.  When one does some weird thing with his spoon, I get to know him.  The middle kid imitates the oldest, and you see how relationships are developing.  I intentionally sit with them when they eat, to build the relationship.  But do I do that with adults?  When is the last time I sat by someone not to start a conversation, but just to be there in case there was commentary? 

Speaking of the church plant, I could hear from my position in the basement of the pastor’s house uproarious laughter, evidence that the group is bonding.  They feel free to be loud, to be humiliated, to laugh, and thus are invested in the details of each others’ lives.  Eventually I think the plan is to have a “normal” church where there is preaching and singing, but I believe they want to keep groups like this one as core to their church.  Once they are loving, unified friends, they can march in sync in their ministry.  In fact, the pastor told me a couple weeks ago that he believes the church’s primary purpose is evangelism, and I’ve been thinking about my disagreement, looking for what the Bible says instead of just what I’ve been taught.  I see the great commission.  And I see Jesus’ prayer in John 17 for what He planned his followers to be.  I read Ephesians, and see that the church is about unity, edification, maturing into the image of Christ.  But that unity of the Spirit is what produces the striving together for the faith of the gospel, the reaching out to the world with the gospel. 

So another thought.  I get challenged like that from this friend, who is a pastor.  His church asks him questions like that more than some, but I think they’re in awe of him, and respectful of him as their leader.  (His wife was originally on my side, properly heeding his perspective and coming early to the conclusion that we’re basically saying the same thing different ways/different emphasis.)  My pastor doesn’t talk to me like that.  I get answers from people who run blogs.  They dare to address my real questions.  But a lot of times their own friends and churches aren’t asking.  What a mess.  Why can’t we be real with the people in our churches? 

I want everyone to read my blog.  But I’m fair about it.  I would want to read everyone else’s blogs or journals, too.  I don’t want to play at friendship, to pretend to be the Body of Christ, anymore.  I, me, personally, want to be real.  And I want to be a real friend.  May God take me, sold out, take my every hour, to be invested in Him and in building people. 

As a crowning point to how this whole topic is being driven home to me today, in one day-long thought, I was telling all these things to my brother after watching some of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  I have no idea how much we missed, but I wouldn’t dare go back to find out; there’s a reason you can skip tracks on DVDs.  (I’m definitely NOT endorsing the movie, but I’m not all that sorry I watched what I did.  Just read a review, and make an educated, prayerful decision if you ever think about watching it.)  Anyway, the premise is that this guy is getting his memories of his girlfriend erased, so he’s going backwards through the memories.  And timelines are just a bit confusing, but if you watch it twice I suspect everything would make sense.  Watch the hair colors.  It’s a key.  We discussed how our brains have to extend to the furthest reaches to follow the movie, and the implications of the story.  It’s too far out, to complex to put our arms around, to hold.  But you can follow it, if you try.  That’s relevant, but this is commentary, windows into my world that produces these thoughts. 

After I said most of the things above, and actually some are his additions, I was talking about being tired of friendships being fake; I want to hear what is going on with people.  I want to read blogs, and my blog to be read.  In an amazing double-irony, he asked, “Did you read my blog?” 

“No.”  We both laughed and I was crying, too, from the irony.  I knew of course that I was contradicting myself because I hadn’t read it in the past couple days, and that he must have written about basically the same thing, or he wouldn’t have brought it up.  And maybe we’re both thinking about the same thing because we read the same things, and talk, and (sometimes) read each other’s blogs.  So here is his perspective on real listening and real friendship.  You have to promise, if you are reading this post, to read his too, and to read it like he meant… every… word. 

Oh, and less crowning but still continuing, we’ve had an ongoing conversation with some friends of ours about “heads bowed, eyes closed” altar calls, whether it be for salvation or other things God’s doing in your life.  We’re tired of playing, and want to be the Church to those around us, at least.  If we can’t see each other, and we’re silent, not praying together at all, how are we going to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep?  What are we saying about the shameless gospel of our God’s great grace? 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

PS: My brother reminds me, and I thought it important enough to make clear: being serious does not exclude joy or smiling or fun.  When I say “I don’t want to play,” I don’t mean I’m opposed to silliness and recreation.  Actually, we should even take our fun seriously; be intense, and sincere when you play. 

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It’s good. 

I appreciate the friends who read my blog and see the life that provides the matrix from which seemingly unrelated posts spring.  They know what I’m saying when I try not to be obvious.  And if I do anything really irresponsible, they can hold me accountable. 

In theory my friends and family can catch up on what I’m thinking.  To some extent that would be encouraging.  Then again, what would we talk about when we’re together?  I like blogging as preparation for that inevitable question, “What’s up with you?” or some similar inquiry; blogging orders my thoughts.  On the other hand, if everyone at church and work and home knew what I was thinking, and what I believe about church, family, politics…  Let’s just say I might be uncomfortable and they might be shocked to find out all at once.  Maybe they are reading.  That’s ok.  I’m working to be more transparent.  Just take a deep breath and reassure yourself that you know me.  I can’t be as weird as all that. 

I love getting comments on my blog.  Making friends, getting encouragement and challenges and insight from people online is profitable.  Comments from friends are exciting, too.  Even if they just say hi. 

When I read blogs written by other people, it brings a smile to my face when their personal friends and family comment.  I know Amy’s (of Humble Musing fame) husband reads her blog.  He even updates it from time to time. 

So here’s the challenge.  If I know you, comment.  If I don’t know you, please comment.  Note the please.  Why are we always kinder to strangers?

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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