Friday, June 27, 2008

It's Always Something

I've become somewhat of a "Mac" enthusiast, and found myself actually reading the recent edition of MacLife magazine. There is an article about new patents that have been granted for products in development behind the walls of Appledom. I've been reading a lot of hype about Apple's July release of the next generation iPhone (3G), and was thinking about how technology today is out-of-date almost from the day the newest model is released.

I remember the first 'mobile' phone Bruce had back in the '90s... it came in purse-size carrying pouch with a battery pack and a huge antennae, weighed around 10 pounds, plugged into the cigarette lighter in the car, and cost a ton of money to make a call.

The patent for the first iPhone (0G) was issued in 1994. It was "as sleek as a walrus, weighing a half a pound". At that time, it was considered pretty 'swanky', but it never made it to market.

But look, a patent was granted earlier this year for the iPhone Mini. It's a flip iPhone, much smaller and more resilient. In addition to the normal bells and whistles, the design describes a dual-sided, transparent touchpad which you can use either open or closed, and software that lets you draw numbers with your finger. The projected ETA, however, is 2010. Here's a picture from the article of the 'proto-type'. Another interesting tidbit (if you look verrrry closely), not lost on me... the Verizon logo.

Hmmm.... what'll they think of next? I'm sort of hoping for iMaid.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fun Times!

A few weeks ago Bruce, Samantha and I got to take a short trip to Florida. We thought it was a good idea to use our 'economic stimulus' check from the IRS to stimulate the economy. Hey... we do our part!

We took the opportunity to celebrate Sam's birthday and college graduation and treated her to one of her favorite pastimes... amusement/theme parks. Our family has always enjoyed PLAYING together, and once, we even considered a plan to visit all of the major theme parks in the US and Canada. We had to shelve that plan for various reasons, but we have actually been to many of them... and some several times.

One of our family favorites has been Disney World. But this trip, we'd decided to go to Universal Studios. We got a decent last minute package, and off we flew. And the icing on the cake was that the day we were leaving, a dear family friend gifted us with some passes to Disney World, too! So, we had four FULL days of delightful amusement!

We carefully planned our schedule in Orlando, so that we could make the most of our opportunity. We got up very early each day, whisked off to open one of the parks, and then at some point during the day, we trekked to one of the others... whichever was open the latest that day. That way, we could get REALLY exhausted, instead of just SOMEWHAT exhausted. But we were only going to be there for 4 days, so we determined to wholeheartedly make the most of it. And we did.

The three of us thoroughly enjoyed our time together; we laughed a lot, ate a lot of junk, and built some wonderful memories. Bruce got really excited to see a favorite cartoon friend, Woody Woodpecker, and he jumped in to get his picture taken with Woody. He politely tried to ask Woody's birdie friend, Winnie, to NOT join them in the Kodak moment, but try to stop the wind!! She barged in anyway. It's possible she didn't speak English, ...and Bruce doesn't speak Woodpecker.

Way too soon our jaunt came to an end, and seems like ages ago instead of a few weeks. I thought that blogging about it would revive the fun-filled moments. I AM feeling a little tired.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rearranging the Furniture

I'm one of those people who embrace the notion that variety is the 'spice' of life. I've always liked visiting new places, trying out a new brand of ice cream, and... rearranging the furniture. Often, the furniture is moved around several times before I'm satisfied, which exasperates my husband, who usually helps me do it. Sometimes, just a few changes can give a fresh perspective, and other times, you have to paint the walls!

So, I rearranged my blog furniture this morning, and repainted the walls. I'm gonna live with it a while, and see how I like it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Natural Selection

Caramel Macchiato or Mocha Frappuccino? Mac or PC?? Coke or Pepsi? The red pill or the blue pill??? To be or not to be? God or mammon?? So many choices.

Bob Dylan wrote a song called You Gotta Serve Somebody. I think Jesus beat him to the punch tho' about two thousand years ago, when He said, "You can't serve two masters... you can't serve God and mammon." I've been thinking about this today.

I recently read a statement that said what we choose to do isn't as crucial as whom we choose to serve. Meaning, if we choose to serve God, and wholeheartedly pursue that choice, we will choose to do things that will please Him. Our choices will be based upon His criteria, and our actions will flow out of that. And vice versa.

That statement makes sense to me. We were talking last weekend in our marriage conference about how far mankind has come from God's original intention for us. I got to thinking about how empowering the idea of 'choice' really is. When God created mankind, He chose to give us the freedom to choose. It wasn't the safe course; robots are more predictable. But choice was the way to build a meaningful relationship. The freedom to choose is a choice gift.

When Eve chose to eat the pretty fruit, she wasn't choosing between chomping on a Macintosh or a Gala. Her choice was between choosing to serve God, or choosing to serve herself. She placed her logic, and her own perceptions of what was good for her, above what she knew of God. Her mindset and actions then became self-directed, self-centered, and self-fulfilled. Then she decided to share this new perspective with Adam, who also had to make a choice.

Choice really is a very powerful thing. Inherently, we desire the freedom to choose. Men and women have put their lives on the line for freedom. Good novels are enriched by heros and heroines who have to make hard choices; we sit in movie theatres and hold our breath hoping Indiana Jones will 'choose wisely'. But so often, people use excuses like... I had no choice, I couldn't help it... It's just the way I am.

In truth, choice is part of our human nature. My husband often told our daughters that to choose one thing meant to not choose something else. So, to not choose is also a choice.

While it is difficult sometimes to know what the 'right' choice is, or to do the 'right' thing, whomever you choose to serve will become your barometer of your heart. I'm prone to choose to worry instead of to trust. That's something I'm working to overcome, because I personally have made my choice to serve God, and worry is not part of His plan. My actions will ultimately reflect how I maintain that choice.

You Gotta Serve Somebody.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Promising Prognostication

Every February 2nd, I think that maybe someday I'll visit Punxsatawney, PA, home of Punxsatawny Phil, the prognosticating rodent. This past weekend, Bruce and I did! And, there were lots of groundhogs gracing the town... some of them 30 feet high and made of painted wood :-}

But we didn't go there to see the groundhogs. Though it was thrilling, to be sure!

We were honored to be asked to facilitate a weekend marriage conference, in conjunction with Faith Fellowship Church. We met some lovely people and spent Friday evening and all day Saturday in good fellowship at a campground just outside of Punxsy. Pastor Tom and Cindy Brink are new friends we're so glad to have made.

One of the themes we incorporated at the conference was Rebuilding the Broken Walls of Your Marriage, from the book of Nehemiah in the Bible. We visited some principles based on the idea that a marriage constitutes a unique 'unit', a fortress for a man and wife and their offspring to live and thrive in. Just as the ancient city of Jerusalem was surrounded by a mighty wall, marriages need a defense against the things of this world that would seek to tear them down.

Walls, by nature, provide a boundary and fortification. When the walls are broken down, the 'inhabitants' of the city are left vulnerable, without a clear identity. And if their own actions led to the destruction, they may also be hounded by shame.

One of the points particularly significant to me in the account of Nehemiah, was that the broken down and burned out ruins of the walls of ancient Jerusalem were rebuilt using the original and seemingly unusable stones. The workers were ridiculed at such a notion, but it was an intentional part of the plan. Nehemiah, symbolic of the Holy Spirit, leads the people to work together, reclaiming the ruins and restoring their heritage.

So often, our generation is one of "if it's broken, chuck it out and buy new ". But Nehemiah's story is one of taking the disappointment, discouragement, and difficulty -- and rebuilding, not discarding. It wasn't easy, and I don't mean to sound simplistic. The people were challenged by great adversaries, and they worked hard, day and night. They had to stand guard over the progress they made, even sleeping with their weapons at their side. But, the book of Nehemiah is symbolic of what the Holy Spirit can do for us in the broken places of our lives and our marriages.

The word holiness and the word wholeness are both from the Old English root word “hal” which means completeness. God, who is Holy, through the work of His Holy Spirit desires to make us whole. He has placed in us unimaginable potential, and has restored our authority and dominion through Jesus the Christ. Leviticus 11:44 tells us to ‘be holy as He is holy.” And because we are made in His image, He has given us the capacity, regardless of the state of our marriage, to be whole. That’s why we called the conference Wholey Matrimony.

In the movie version of Groundhog Day, Phil Connors (Bill Murray) found himself trapped in time, reliving February 2nd over and over, making the same mistakes or finding ground for new ones. When he discovered that he could rebuild his-story by changing some of his self-centered and destructive ways, his perspective changed, and so did his behavior. It became a story of redemption somehow impacted by a supernatural guide.

Redemption is all about hope. And hope springs eternal.

And often, the groundhog is 'heard' to proclaim, "Spring is just around the corner."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Onward and Upward

Happy Father's Day to all of your fathers and fathers-t0-be.

To celebrate the day with Bruce, Samantha and I took him to the Omni Max Theatre at the Carnegie Science Center to see a movie called, The Alps. It was his choice.

The movie was about an American mountaineer and Journalist, John Harlin III, who "set out on an epic personal journey to climb the deadly North Face of the Eiger, the stormiest, steepest peak in all of Europe -- 40 years after the same mountain claimed the life of his larger-than-life father, climbing legend John Harlin II. "

It was visually thrilling in the Omni Max setting, and sometimes the photography even left you a little, woozy, but it was somewhat of an inspirational tail of training and discipline toward pursuing a life-long dream. At one point in John's climb, as he narrated the film, he talked about reaching the 'point of no return' ... the place at which you know you are physically committed, and you can't turn back, you can only go forward. And in his case that was straight up.

It reminded me of an experience our daughter, Ashley, recounted to us of an expedition of her own a few years ago the summer she spent working in a camp in Rocky Mountain National Park. She and two friends climbed Longs Peak, which at 14,259 feet, towers above all other summits in Rocky Mountain. They actually hiked the 8 mile trek, rather than climb straight up the face, but a grueling task, nonetheless. They had to start out at 11:00 PM, hike all night, and reach the summit early the next morning, in able to have enough daylight left to make the trip back down the mountain the whole next day.

What I remember most about her account of the journey was, after hiking all night in increasingly thinning air, they were close to the summit, but that last quarter of the climb was physically the most arduous. One of Ashley's climbing buddies, saw the steep and treacherous trail still ahead of them, through the 'keyhole', and just sat down and cried. The girl told her companions she just couldn't go on, and to pick her up on the way back. Ashley, feeling every bit as exhausted and overwhelmed, nonetheless said, I didn't come this far to not finish the climb. So Ashley dug down deep into her soul, and persevered to the summit. She had passed the point of no return, and the only way for her was up.

Both climbing stories tell of fighting the good fight and finishing the race. So many times we set out on a 'journey' and find the going impossibly tough. Obstacles like disappointment, discouragement and physical hardships taunt us to quit, to just give up. But if we persevere and don't faint, and call upon God to help us, and if we stand on our faith in His faithfulness, we can reach the summit.

John Harlin got past a memory that had held him captive all of his life. Ashley got the satisfaction of finishing well (and a cool t-shirt that says "I climbed Longs Peak").
And what's more, they both can remember the victory the next time trials come, and reach for the courage to keep on.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Cor. 9:8