Saturday, October 31, 2009

Christmas Sanity Plan - Part 10

Here I am again, posting my “Christmas Sanity Plan” blog in the last few hours of the month. On the bright side though, I’ve made great strides towards my goal. My biggest accomplishment was ordering our Christmas cards. I seem to have established a reputation for sending my cards out rather late in the season. I think the latest they’ve ever been sent was in January (or did I save them for Easter?) Of course, my letter is yet to be written so even though I’ve got the cards, the envelopes, the stamps and the letterhead, this plan could all go south if I don’t follow through.

I don’t want to send the cards out too early, of course, because that could just send people into shock, or have them running to their calendars to make sure they didn’t sleep through the first three weeks of December. I want to be considerate of my friends’ health, after all. But, I’m still working towards my goal of being done by December 1.

I also made great progress this month in getting some gifts purchased. At this point, my focus is mostly on my immediate family and they seem to be the easiest. A couple of years ago I changed from buying them multiple gifts to getting them just one big thing along with gift cards, or little things for their stockings. While the amount of money I spend is pretty much the same, this plan works well for me because it requires much less time spent wrapping.

The key, I think, to staying sane at Christmas is to figure what works for you. One of my friends loves to wrap gifts. Me? While I don’t detest gift wrapping, it does seem to add stress when I’m already stretched to the limit. That is why my family plan works well for me. Of course, once I have grandchildren, things could change. I have great potential for being an out of control grandmother.

If you’ve not been following along all year in this Christmas sanity scheme of mine, you might want to consider starting in the next few weeks with your Christmas plan. Norman Vincent Peale once said, “plan your work – work your plan.” Good advice.

And, if you’ve never tried it, check out internet shopping. As much as I love email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, planning trips, and looking up interesting tidbits of information, I would have to say that internet shopping is by far my favorite part of living in an age of technology. Internet shopping has proven to be the biggest stress reducer of the Christmas season for me.

Before I close I would like to bring up something I wrote at the beginning of the year. While I love giving gifts to family and friends, I think the best gift you can give someone is time spent together. Be sure to make include that as part of your Christmas plan.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Father's Heart - Book Review

This blog should have been written long ago. And the book I’m writing about, The Father’s Heart, should have been read long ago; by me, at least. You see, the author, Kristie Kerr, is one of my good friends, and one of the wisest young people I know. She has helped me through plenty of rough patches in life, and hopefully, I’ve helped her through a couple, too. So, when her book was finally published, I bought it right away. I even read the first chapter on my way home in the car. (I wasn’t driving.) But then, as life would go, it got set aside for a bit. I can’t tell you why.

A couple weeks ago I picked up Kristie’s book and determined to finish it within a few days. It isn’t a long book so, even though I am a painfully slow reader, I figured my goal was achievable. And, a funny thing happened. It has happened to me in the past, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but as I read, it became apparent that I was reading The Father’s Heart at exactly the time I needed its message the most.

Through personal stories, scripture and an honest look at God, Kristie keeps her reader laughing, crying and doing some serious thinking throughout the book. She portrays the heart of our Father God in an amazing way. When Kristie was writing her book she told me that she’d always understood how much Jesus loved her, but that if she were honest, she was really just a bit fearful of God. I think the same could be said for many of us; certainly for me. So, she decided to dig deeper in an effort to really understand God’s love for her. And, what she ended up with is a book that will assure anyone who reads it that they are loved beyond measure.

Let’s be honest. We all have times when we doubt if God really, REALLY loves us. We say we know it’s true, but in our hearts, do we really believe it? Kristie has tackled the tough questions that we ask in those times when we are feeling less than loved, or wondering why it might feel that God has abandoned us. (Oh, by the way, He hasn’t.)

I’ll not name names, but there are quite a few people on my Christmas list getting a copy of Kristie’s book. If you’d like your own copy of The Father’s Heart (and you’re fairly certain that you aren’t on my Christmas list) you may get one by contacting Kristie at It’ll be the best $10 you have ever spent. Buy extras, you’ll want to pass it on.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Keeping up with Technology

Since my last blog was about texting with the T-9 feature, I thought it only fair to let you know that I have moved forward in the world of technology. I recently heard that technology is changing so rapidly that those who don’t keep up with the changes will turn into bitter old people. I can’t let that happen. Quite honestly, I think I could easily be a pretty grumpy old woman if I don’t watch myself. Right now, most people think I’m pretty nice. At least that’s what they are saying to my face. But that’s because at this point in my life I possess a fairly intact brain that allows me to filter the things that come out of my mouth. It seems to me, though, that somewhere along the way, older people lose their filter and who knows what might fly out when that filter fades in my life. And if I become bitter, well, it just might not be pretty.

It seems, too, that I need to stave off bitterness for the entire spousal unit of which I’m but one part. My husband doesn’t seem nearly as concerned about the bitterness factor and is happy to have a cell phone to turn on when he needs to make a call that he, in the past, would otherwise have had to stop and make from a pay phone. I think it’s adorable, and yet a wee bit frustrating, that he’ll call me from the road to tell me his approximate arrival time, then hang up and turn off his phone. I think he’s only actually heard his cell phone ring once or twice in the year he’s had it. Once he arrives home he promptly plugs the phone into the charger to recapture those three minutes of battery time that he has used up.

So, in an effort to lower the future bitterness factor, I made the leap and bought a Blackberry Curve. I have no idea yet, what the Curve is all about, but they told me it was the latest and greatest in Blackberries. (Is Blackberries the plural of Blackberry when you are talking cell phones? I don’t know.) If you are an I-phone user, you might just want to stop reading now because I don’t want snide remarks from you telling me what a poor choice I made. I understand that your I-phone is most likely superior to my Blackberry but I wasn’t ready to change carriers or buy an “unlocked” and thus warranty-less I-phone from E-bay.

For me, the greatest selling feature of the Blackberry was having a full keyboard at my fingertips. Unfortunately, one of my fingertips can simultaneously hit three, and possibly four, keys in one quick touch. In fact, I can almost completely cover the ENTIRE keyboard with my two pudgy little thumbs. This should have been my first clue that there would be a bit of a learning curve on this new phone of mine.

So far, I have learned how to make a phone call, which is after all the primary function of a cell phone. Sadly, that little bit of learning didn’t happen quite as quickly and easily as it probably should have.

I also know how to send a text message, which really, if you’re going to be cool at all, requires knowledge of the secret text message code. For instance, you can save HUGE amounts of time by typing the letter “c” instead of the much longer version of the word “see.” And, my personal favorite secret code word is 2", which works for “I’m going to the store,” “I love you, too,” and “I have two thoughts on that issue.” Please note that all three uses of 2 are only three letters or less, and on my keyboard it requires that I hit both the alt key and then the number 2 key in order to type “2”, so I am saving maybe ½ or even an entire second of time. I’m sure those of you who are texting on those old-fashioned phones using the T-9 feature are becoming more bitter by the minute. Jealousy isn’t pretty, people.

And, my really cool new phone allows me to search the web, update my Facebook and Twitter statuses, and a bunch of other really cool things I’ve yet to figure out. There really should be a community education class for people over 50 learning to use Blackberries. I would sign right up for that.

I think there should be a flip up magnifier on these phones. You see, the number one problem I had with learning how to make a phone call was that, without my reading glasses on, I couldn’t figure out where the numbers were. Someone should tell the Blackberry people that red numbers don’t really contrast well with the black keys. (Maybe I’ll give that job to John. As an eye doctor he might carry more clout, and after all, he needs to do his part here.)

So you see, I’m taking baby steps into the technology arena. Perhaps my next move should be to get some stronger reading glasses. Hey, I know just who to see about that. He may not be good with cell phones, but he does know eyes.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I had lunch with a friend today. She told me that she’s been checking my blog everyday to see if I’ve put up a new post. I promised I’d write one tonight and since it’s nearly midnight I’d better get to work. And, since she may be the only one that hasn’t completely given up on me, I figured I’d write about her.

About a year ago we were together with another friend. She (and by “she” I mean today’s lunch friend. I know this is confusing but I think, under the circumstances, her identity should be protected) had never sent a text message before, and the two of us, having had limited success with texting, decided to impart her with our vastly inadequate amount of knowledge. This all happened, by the way, on the way home from the retreat where the little incident between my van and the aggressive fence occurred. We were beyond tired. You know how once you get past a certain stage of tired everything suddenly becomes funny? We were at that point. And seriously, there is nothing better than a little laughter with some girlfriends that just about makes you wet your pants. (Oh please, like it hasn’t happened to you.)

Anyway, as we waited for our food to arrive (did I forget to mention we were in a restaurant?) we were teaching our friend about the T-9 function available on most cell phones. I have no idea why it is called T-9. To be honest, I’m not even sure it is called T-9, but that’s what I’ve been told. It’s the feature that guesses what word you want to type based on the keys you hit. For instance, if you hit the 4 key and then the 3 key, the phone will automatically fill in the word “he.” But, if you really wanted to type the word “if” you just hit another button (depending on your phone) and it’ll change the word for you. It’s like having your own personal mind reader who occasionally gets the wrong answer. Just recently, I figured out that it displays the possible words in alphabetical order. Who knew?

By the way, I realize that 99% of my readers already understand this concept but my mother will appreciate the explanation.

Anyway, at a certain point in the teaching process, my friend decided she was ready to send a text message. She started with a text to her son Daniel. Everything went smoothly and her confidence was high. After her first success, she was ready to send a message to her other son, Bryan. Now, the problem with Bryan (or his name at least) is that my friend had obviously chosen the less frequently used spelling. Cell phones make no accommodations for such life impacting decisions. So, following our instructions, using the T-9 feature, she hit keys, 2..7..9..2..6 and her phone produced the name Aswan. My friend was baffled. Why hadn’t this worked? Truth be told, I was baffled, but only because I’d never see Bryan’s name in print before so I’d assumed the more typical spelling, Brian.

If you’ll recall from the beginning of this story, we were already in the slaphappy mode so this new bit of fodder sent our giggling over the top, producing curious (or were they sympathetic) looks from the other restaurant patrons.

It’s possible that I may never remember Bryan’s real name because we have, since that night, referred to him as Aswan. Poor guy, I don’t think he finds it nearly as amusing as we do.

After our lunch today, Leslie . . . um, I mean my anonymous friend . . ., sent me a text message. “Aswan got the job!” Congratulations, Aswan!

If you are in need of texting lessons, feel free to call; the three of us will get together and teach you. You may not know how to text when you get done, but I guarantee you’ll have fun learning. And, if all goes well, you may even end up with a new name for a special someone in your life.