Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Re: Gnosticism

I’m very glad that God is not only about knowledge, or only about action.

We can know God. He is a God of revelation. We can talk to Him. He is a God who desires to be sought.

God is a giver of good gifts. He is an active God. God created a material world and prepared good works for us to do. We are His masterpieces.

He is a personal God. We come to Him by faith. He is a rewarder. We can know His ways. He is a lover. We can imitate His compassion.

God made a garden. Worship extends beyond the events inside the temple. The Israelites carried their fruits into the temple. They dedicated their sons and daughters at the temple. Then they went back out. Worship is impossible if we remain in the temple. Worship is action. Not just sacrifice. Living sacrifice.

The revealed grace of God teaches us to live soberly, righteously, and godly. To sit at God’s feet is good. To walk with God is what is required of us. God desires obedience rather than sacrifice. Obedience, we ought to realize, is only possible by grace.

To God be all glory.

God Uses Middle Men

God uses middle men.

He made angels. They serve Him.

He could just say something, and it would be. But He commands, and it is done.

He could just say something, and it would be. But He prophesies, and it will be done.

God made the Church, and told us to submit to one another, to esteem one another, and to exhort one another, to speak to one another.

He could talk to us when we need guidance, comfort us when we feel alone. But He sends others to speak and to comfort.

What joy we can have from imitating God. What joy to join Him in His work. What joy to be commissioned as His messengers and servants.

To God be all glory.

Faith Moves Mountains

Matthew 17:20, "And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

I once heard it said that integrity does not come by degrees. If you compromise your morals in one point, you no longer have integrity. “Whoever shall keep the whole law and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” And one weak link can break the chain.

Faith is like that. Either you have faith or you do not. Size of faith is irrelevant. Faith cannot be measured. Can one person have more faith than another? By this rule, the answer is no. If he has any faith, he has faith, and there can be no more.

The question is, in what is our faith. A friend with whom I was discussing the mustard seed and mountain verse above said that we can have faith in some things but not others. We can have faith that our chairs will keep us off the ground, but not faith that an airplane will. And I suppose someone who had faith in both chairs and airplanes would have more faith than someone with faith in only one of those.

But we are talking about something quite different when we claim to have faith that God can save us, but not faith that God can heal us. We believe in creation, but not moveable mountains. We believe man and wife are brought together, but broken marriages cannot be put together again. The dead are raised, but that lazy man down the street is – we admit our unbelief – going to be lazy forever. Aha! you say. All these examples demonstrate that there are measures of faith.

The examples I just gave are chairs and airplanes. We usually include God in our professions of faith or doubt. But faith in God is absolute. Either we believe that He is God, and depend on Him, or we do not. How then do I explain all those limited bits of faith? We do not have so much faith in God, as in a sort of scientific or superstitious observation. Our confidence is in the acts, not in the Worker. It would be reasonable if we were talking about someone not omniscient, to have faith that he could do some things but not others. You could have faith that I can walk, but not faith that I can fly. But God by nature can do all His will.

Faith in God is very humbling. I have often tried to tell God, “I can’t.” His response has always been that He can. And at last I am beginning to realize that in everything the truth is, “I can’t.” Only by the grace of God can I do anything good. No prayer is effective because I prayed it, but because my God is powerful. The prayer of faith is not a confidence in the power of my prayer. The verse quoted at the beginning is taken from an account where the apostles were trying to cast out a demon, and could not. Their faith was in the power given to them, not in the source of their power. They did not pray; they spell-ed.

Moving mountains is not a confidence in the amount of faith we have, nor in the authority of our prayer. Moving mountains is based on a God who does the impossible. With any faith in Him, we know that He can do all things, and depend on Him to do so.

I think I have made my point. However, I do not think I have thoroughly described what is at stake with accepting or applying Matthew 17:20. There is that troubling question of having confidence not only in what God can do, but in what He will do. Elijah the prophet did something very like moving a mountain: he prayed there would be no rain on Israel until he prayed for it. How did he know that God did not want it to rain? A prophet whose word does not come true was to be stoned. He risked his life proclaiming that there would be no rain. How would we know if God wanted us to say to a mountain, “be cast into the sea”? That is another (very controversial) question entirely.

To God be all glory.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I posted a blog earlier this week that mentioned Avatar, and I was planning, when I wrote the entry a month ago, to balance it with a description of the value in Avatar: heroism. But I didn't write the post while I had the thoughts, so there isn't one. Just this.

To God be all glory.

Books Read in 2010

Your God is Too Safe by Mark Buchanan – A well-written book about Christian living. Dare to believe in a God who is not about rules, whose way is not comfortable or easy or popular. Practice His presence. Wait on Him and don’t give up, taking matters into your own hands. It took me a while to read this book. But every time I picked it up, it echoed the very lessons God was driving home in my lived-out life.

The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning – All about grace. And grace is always good. I knew before I read it to be wary of some of Brennan Manning’s ideas, so that didn’t hang me up. Even when I disagreed, I talked to my Jesus about it, and *that* made my week.

Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo – Was not a great story, not great writing, and not a great ending. But I read it anyway, my first venture into Austen fan-fiction. The title was the best part. (To be Austen purist, I am pretty sure the author mis-identifies the inhabitants of Mansfield Park. She should have said Bertram, but she said Rushworth.)

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (see full review)

Castles in the Sand by Carolyn A. Greene - A novel about the subtle ways pagan spirituality and eastern mysticism are becoming accepted in evangelical Christian organizations.  Focuses on the teachings and life of Teresa of Avila.  

Annotated Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and David M. Shapard - The classic Jane Austen novel with lots of extra commentary as well as notes about history, economics, and fashion.  I liked it a lot!

Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul - Explanation of Calvinism especially versus Arminianism.  Focuses on the doctrine of predestination.  

Tristan and Isolt, A Play in Verse by John Masefield - A short play telling a story of thoughtless love leading to tragedy.  What is real love?  How does Destiny figure in?

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Patillo - Another adventure in England with the Formidables, this time featuring a codependent heroine who has the chance to reinvent her life for a couple weeks without worrying what anyone needs her to be.  The exercise reveals her insecurity and causes her to confront her life choices.  Can a woman build a life on other people?  

Green by Ted Dekker - Book 0 of the Circle Series, the beginning and end of the Thomas Hunter story.  I haven't read any of the other books in the series, which Ted Dekker says is ok.  But it was confusing.  And I don't think I like reading the end before the beginning.  I did like all the talk about hope.  And remembering that spiritual realities are real, even if they are unseen.  

Miniatures and Morals: the Christian Novels of Jane Austen by Peter Leithart - A wonderful look at the beloved authoress' use of satire, contrast, irony, and very good story-telling to communicate a morality originating in a deeply Christian worldview.

The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary by Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall, and Edmund Weiner (see full review)

Why Pro-Life?  Caring for the Unborn and their Mothers by Randy Alcorn - A short summary of the major points of pro-life Christianity.  Pro-life is also pro-woman.  The "choice" is a moral one.  Preborn babies are people, too.  Pro-life ministries also help women after the babies are born.

That Hideous Strength by C. S. Lewis (see full review)

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Quietness and the Profane

"But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." - 1 Peter 3:4

Quietness is hard for me. I like to talk. I like to be busy. When I long for God, I long for His action – for evidence that He is involved in my life. That verse, “Be still and know that I am God,” is comforting, commanding, and challenging. Stillness is also something I am not good at.

Most of the time I pray for quietness, to feel at peace. I want that inner contentment and focus. Lately I’ve been realizing I need to behave peacefully, to be intentional about being quiet. And it seems too common, too human an effort, to apply this to how I talk. But it isn’t. I need to practice biting my tongue when I have nothing edifying to say. To first ask myself, “Have I listened?” Is my need to talk a need to bless and build up others, or is it something selfish and impulsive?

These are the things I was thinking about while I watched the movie, Avatar. Reflecting the vulgar culture common to the military and Hollywood, the film employs cussing. Such words are, in context, meaningless grunts of emotional expression. Because they are cuss words, they also indicate that the speaker is at a state of minimal restraint and no respect for his audience. He is speaking because he feels he must, not because he wishes his hearers to understand.

Even when the vocabulary itself is not profane, the dialogue is not very deep. Often I got the impression that the main character, Jake, was jabbering because he was used to talking, not because he had something to say. He would speak in English when no one around could understand. The natives, aliens to us, were always making noise: hissing at enemies, crying out with enthusiasm for war, ululating for unexplained reasons, chanting repetitive hums at religious ceremonies. I wondered why the moviemakers would put such scenes in the script. Partly I believe they were imitating cultures that are foreign to Americans as a mere device to convince us the tribe was “primitive” and unfamiliar. On the other hand, maybe the writers and director function in that way themselves, and see nothing unusual about a noisy movie that says nothing.

Indeed the movie itself spent over two and a half hours showing off imaginative landscapes, fanciful machines, and big fires. There was a story, but I didn’t find it captivating and this is why: I don’t think they were saying much of anything. Imitating storylines that worked in other movies, Avatar was an unconvincing performance of people learning to live by impulses, to fulfill themselves as told by their bodies, not by any transcendent principles. They spoke, acted, felt, and thought because they wanted to – which if any of those things had been possible without purpose, would not be profane. But each of those things does have value and direction, given by the Creator. Even in a myth, where storytellers are not describing the true world and its true God, they must bow to this truth or be found profane before the Creator they are imitating.

And I must either speak as the oracles of God or, as Job, place my hand over my mouth. God is the original. If I do not reflect Him well, I am an abomination, an insult to the sacredness He has placed on words, on thought, on feeling, and on work.

To God be all glory.


Lately I’ve been learning about needs. And learning to admit that I have them: to myself, to God, and to others. I was homeschooled in a way that taught me to be rather self-sufficient in my learning. Usually if I read something in a book and thought about it hard enough, I could figure it out. There are dictionaries and encyclopedias, all examples of removed dependence. Now we even have Google, where with a click and a pressing a few keys, I can access a world of help – and never have to admit that I did. There have been times when no school books, long thinking, dictionaries, or websites could help me. When I wanted my grandpa’s desk moved to my room, I needed help getting it down the basement stairs. Often I have read the Bible and been unable to make heads or tails of it, even with the help of concordances and commentaries. But asking a friend, or a group of friends, has been enlightening.

I’m hungry right now. It is about 1 o’clock PM, and the only thing I’ve had all day is a bottle of orange juice. So my stomach has that familiar ache that asks to be fed. Hunger is part of our lives because we are responsive creatures. Though there are things we can discipline ourselves to do, typically we eat when we are hungry, drink when thirsty, sleep when tired. We blink when dust flies at our eyes. And those impulses are good, because we need food, drink, rest, and defense to stay alive.

Just now I have another sensation. I want to be held. Not given a hand-shake. Not a quick hug. The desire is for prolonged contact, tightness blended with gentleness. And the feeling is so much like hunger and thirst and weariness that I cannot think that it is unnatural or purposeless. Perhaps the need is less urgent… Perhaps I will even survive if I am never held. Do I NEED my mommy? A husband? I think these longings point to that. Were they not balanced by morality taught in the Bible, I would just go after gratification. Outcomes don’t change the fact that the sensation is related to the other need-based instincts.

The philosophy is going around the Christian community that the only thing we need is God. I suppose this is true if you are saying, “The only thing we need FOR salvation is God.” Just like the only think we need FOR hunger is food. The only thing I need FOR good grades is to know the right answers for the test. But we live in a cause and effect world. God made it that way. So to reach certain outcomes, we NEED certain prerequisites.

To say, “I don’t need food; I have God,” is nonsense. It is possible to starve to death while “having” God. With such a being as God, it is possible for Him to maintain life without food – but He rarely does so, and has not promised it. From a certain point of view, God was all that starving person needed – to accomplish God’s will, to bring God glory, maybe even to be happy. But God was not the sole need if the goal was continued life.

As Christians in the Church Age, God has seen fit to put us as individual members of one body. Without those individuals functioning as ears, where would the hearing be for those of us who are eyes? Such is the metaphor Paul uses. To accomplish the good works God has prepared for us, we NEED other believers. Use of spiritual gifts demands at the very least, objects. Teachers have students. Shepherds have sheep. Most often cooperation is also required. Discipleship is not accomplished by one person. Repentance is much more successful when it is confessed to a community. “One another” fills the teachings of the New Testament. We NEED others.

In a similar way, husbands and wives NEED each other. If God wants me to be married, I need a husband to obey God’s call. To function as a wife, I need a husband. Husbands are not God. They are not sufficient for all a woman’s needs. They cannot give her purpose like God can. Wives do need husbands, though. To “be fruitful and multiply,” a woman needs a man – unless God is going to miraculously intervene like he did with Mary, but that was a very special case not ever to be repeated!

The reluctance to acknowledge these needs leads to weakness, as we attempt to live the Christian life in independence: praying by ourselves, serving by ourselves, confessing alone, studying alone. It leads to the thinking that church is where we serve, but not where we are ourselves built into servants. After all, if God is the only thing we need, we don’t need the discipleship offered from a community of believers. And other believers don’t need us, since they have God. So when we gather, our purpose is either all about God (a sensory worship experience) or all about non-believers (let’s make it fun enough that they’ll stay to hear when we mention Jesus, the cross, and belief). Problem is, that isn’t how the Bible describes church. Believers gather for edification, fellowship, teaching. Worship is rarely mentioned. The possibility of non-believers present is addressed once. Read Ephesians. Read Romans, and 1 Corinthians. Even the passages about pastors in 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and 1 Peter have the emphasis of building up.

When we think God is all we NEED, we reject His good gifts. We do not ask Him for what we need. Those people God has called to walk alongside us are not esteemed. Our failure is discouraging, for when we fall, who will lift us up again? I believe that God works in my weakness. I do not believe this always manifests as a miracle. There have been experiences in my life where I was trying to teach something, and my communication was weak or distracted. But other believers, equipped and brought forward by God, have joined with me and completed the lesson. If I denied that possibility, I would have to believe that the lesson I was trying to teach never got taught. Do you see?

God is rather fond of means and middle men. When His word accomplishes universes, yet He creates angels to do His bidding. Cooperation is not the most efficient possibility for the Almighty. But then He created time, too. God does not need anything more than Himself. Since He set us in a world, not alone, with tasks to do by work and not by miraculous proclamations, we do NEED some things. Some people. And God.

To God be all glory.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

You Should Have Seen It

One week ago I watched my friends do Awana Bible Quizzing. This is the first year since I was 9 that I haven't participated at all. One of the teams was dressed in black and white with hats. They called them fedoras, though I'm not sure they are. Anyway, they were all so cute together!

On my way to work on Monday, the roads were rather slick, but I was doing fine in my wonderful car. When I merged onto the more major road of my commute, the young lady in front of me, was not doing fine. She turned around to face me, in her old white car. Her dark hair framed a rather confused and frightened face. But I got around her to give her room to maneuver herself out of trouble. In my rearview mirror I saw her take a while to right herself.

My face probably looked so peaceful the first half of the week, peace and love and joy. My Jesus was very good to me, reminding me of His incredible grace to my base unworthiness. And He loves my friends like that, too. And my enemies. I've been dancing, praying, and sighing all week.

Friday night I was with some friends. I'd come from judging a debate tournament, so I was wearing my favorite navy blue dress with a crochet-trimmed white sweater - not the style of clothing most people were wearing there. One of the guys, a stout young man with a Chicago accent and red hair, said good-bye to two guys standing next to me. He fist-bumped them. You know, that moment when someone's clenched hand comes toward you in slow motion so that you have time to think, "Is he trying to hit me? no, he wants me to push my fist against his, but... oops! it's too late!" Since he'd done it to the two people before me, I was ready for this. My had preceded his, up in a fingery wave.

Another young man, whom I had never met until that night, laughed from across the room. He was laughing at the idea of someone looking like me doing a fist-bump. But when I explained that I absolutely cannot fist-bump, the fun started. Really. Ever since the gesture came into vogue, I've been incapable of accomplishing my end of the greeting. In fact, if unexpected, I freak out. Usually my hands go up like I've been held up, and start shaking. My face contorts to a look of panicked awkwardness. I explained this to my friends, who tried it on me.

If you're very slow and patient, of course, my fist can contact yours at the correct angle. But a slow and hesitant fist-bump, that's signature Lisa. I think part of the problem is that I didn't get initiated soon enough, before variations began appearing. So by the time any of my friends wanted to fist-bump me, I didn't know whether they would bump, pound, slide and bump, pound up then down, bump and sparkle, or anything else I had as yet not encountered. As if it isn't difficult enough to manage a handshake, eye contact, and a word of greeting, must we mix it up?

In a few weeks I'm having another Pigfest, so I was making invitations. They are themed after Fiddler on the Roof, to emphasize the topic of TRADITION. I used so many different fonts, a watermarked silhouette of a fiddler on a roof under the "headline", orange paper for an extra blurb paperclipped to the whole thing, and a black background. I was working on this joyful project Tuesday night when my brother asked me if I wanted to meet friends in the middle of the night at IHOP. Of course I said yes. But I had some ice cream already in a bowl to eat. So I ate it as I drove, hurrying to get to the restaurant "no later than 11," as my friend had directed. And then I sat in the lonely dark parking lot of IHOP for fifteen minutes, hoping not to look too suspicious, before my brother called to say we were meeting somewhere else first. But I finished my ice cream and filed my nails in the mean time.

Tonight I was making chocolate cheesecake, with a chocolate chip cookie crust. I put the crust in the oven to bake and ran to the store for cream cheese and cool whip, so I could make the top of the cake. Just as my grocery-laden self entered the house, the timer went off. So I set my things on the table and went to pull the crust from the oven. But, you know those spring-form pans that you use to make cheesecake? This one was loose, so when I pulled the pan out of the oven, I felt it slipping against the potholder I had on my hand. Still moving to the nearest available counter space, the cake slipped a second time. The bottom fell out of my pan, cookie flew across the kitchen floor. Only a tiny portion was safe on top of the pan. My dubious eyes just blinked at the mess, unsure how to handle the hot cookie and pan sitting on the ground, or what to do next.

Our kitties are lying curled into ring-shapes in our living room. For having only one person here, it is very not empty. At the mall on Wednesday, I was talking to my sister about how I like rooms with a few pieces of furniture, some color on the walls (paint or framed art), and a vase in the corner. But it doesn't seem to be a style we can accomplish in our house. We go for the collection, layered, Victorian meets suburban America meets homeschool family. We have a lot of mis-matched furniture and fabrics, a piano covered with hymnals and Bibles and family pictures, stacks of books and stored around the room are DVDs and blankets and other odds and ends. For example, there is a no longer hot curling iron sitting on a plate also on top of our piano. A cup from Wendy's is on a tv-tray serving as end table. And my half-eaten dinner is in the kitchen with my half-made cheesecake.

I started a book called Jane Austen Ruined my Life. No, I'm not writing it; I'm reading it. The writing is of such low quality that I would be ashamed to have written and published it. Anyway, the title is interesting. And on Thursday a friend asked me whether I thought reading novels was bad for people because they give us unrealistic expectations, especially of relationships. I said no, because we know the books aren't true. Real life is much cooler than fiction, but we do sometimes make sense of it using art like novels. Her kids, for example, do very much like to be pushed and crawled over, hefted in the air and jostled - who would imagine such things and put them in books?

Blogging is cool because it is real life. And sometimes real life is cool because it is material for blogs.

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Why I am STILL a Sidewalk Counselor

A couple years ago I wrote about my experiences going to “sidewalk counsel” outside of Planned Parenthood in Denver, an attempt to persuade women not to abort their babies, to let them know one last time that there is help, and that abortion will not solve their problems. Since then, I have mentioned the pro-life activities now and then. Because I don’t write about it frequently, you may think I am only sporadic in my involvement. That’s not true.

From the beginning, I didn’t go to Planned Parenthood because of results. I have no superman complex that I have some special skill by which I can save the world. My power is as an instrument of God. If He will use me to save a life, then I am willing. To be willing, I have to go where He points. So I have gone “sidewalk counseling” because I believe God wants me to. Not that saves don’t excite and refresh me. There are some days when I plead for a save, just to remind us that there is hope. Because the days can get long and depressing for a small group of protesters faced too often with the hard-heartedness of parents and professionals who proceed with the wicked slaughter.

Neither do I go to prove that I am right. What people think of me because I go (or when I don’t) is not the point. So it doesn’t matter when angry women cuss at me, or when people driving by yell that we should “get a job” or “help starving children in Haiti instead.” I know that my value has been established by the price my God chose to pay to redeem me. I know that a gentle and quiet spirit is valuable in His sight, and He will not abandon me when the wicked slander me. That is to say, God is fighting for me, so there is no need for me to defend myself with reasoned arguments or clever comebacks. Speak up for the innocent being led to the slaughter. My voice is lifted up for them, but not for me.

Part of me goes regularly to the Clinic because of the other people there. There is common ground and purpose. We work as a team. But we are friends, too, keeping track of the cares and joys we are bearing. I miss those friends when I skip a week. And even when we are sharply disagreeing on theology or even on methods of saving babies, it is good to be with people who take the world seriously, who don’t just let life happen to them, but seize and pursue it.

The number one reason I go is the prayer. I am not a silent witness for the preborn children. My mission is not one of prayer for God to work while I refuse to obey Him when He calls me to speak. I climb ladders to be seen over tarps, step towards cars to offer them literature, and even call out to mothers and fathers, friends and grandparents entering the house of murder. But I pray. When I don’t pray there, where the battle lines are so obvious, I fail on every level, and am discouraged and distracted the rest of the day. Prayer softens my heart to those enemies of God who are even yet experiencing His grace and mercy. It aches my heart for the real wickedness being done on the innocent behind those walls. Talking to my Jesus relieves my soul of its worries: petty or deep. Seeking God’s heart changes mine. And it focuses me.

Prayer is not easy for me. I forget to pray. I don’t feel like praying, when I know I should. I start praying but have nothing to say, so I give up. But there, where life and death and spirits hang in the balance, prayer is urgent and real. I am sensitive to the messages and tactics of those warring against God. Praying about the spiritual battle there makes my eyes open the rest of the day to the real spiritual battle happening all the time and everywhere.

To be honest, when there is something hard I must face later in the day, I want to spend three hours outside in prayer at the clinic. When there is something playful and superficial (not always bad things) later in the day, I want to go do something important for balance. When my mind is spinning trying to process the complexities of relationships and choices, it is good to put my feet on solid ground, to stand before God and plead for the salvation of the innocent and the repentance of those that endorse their deaths.

So that’s it. I’m there once or twice a week. I believe in sidewalk counseling. I enjoy the fellowship and the focus and the purpose. Now to figure out why I’m still blogging…

To God be all glory.

When I Turn On My Computer

There is a routine I have in those free times when I turn on my computer. It is usually accompanied by supper or a bowl of Extreme Moosetracks chocolate ice cream.

The first thing I do is pull up my Outlook Express and get it started downloading my emails. Then I open a window of Facebook (more recently via Google Chrome) and log in. While that is loading, I open two more tabs and send them to Blogger and Wordpress.

Facebook is a between times activity. When a separate page is loading, or between tasks, I go scroll through my friends’ status updates, commenting on a few of them. I check to see who is listed as “online” at the moment, but hardly ever start chats with them. If a friend wants to chat with me, however, I’m usually up for it.

My Blogger Dashboard has my blog reader listed on it, so I begin scrolling through recently updated blogs for any that look interesting. I always click on the first post from A Holy Experience. That beautiful site plays the most peaceful music in the background, a soothing atmospheric playlist that can repeat for hours without growing old. It is also one of the blogs on which I will read every post until I am caught up. The other blog for which I do that is my brother’s, Silence Spoken. We’re like best friends, so I know most of what he says, though his poetry is a removed perspective, a picturesque turn of words to express the big ideas in his head and heart. Usually I will go through and open all the eye-catching blog titles in their own new tabs, so that I can read them later.

My email takes a while to download, but by this time they should be viewable. I start by deleting the emails I don’t want: updates from Amazon.com, Avon, weather forecasts from the week prior, Human Events ads and articles that I get because they are kind enough to email me Ann Coulter’s articles each week. Then I start at the earliest unread email and begin reading. Most are little Facebook notifications: someone commented on my wall. Another person added a comment to a wall-post or status on which I had commented. Friend requests and acceptances. Every month or so I collect all these into a separate file for archived Facebook notifications. The best things to read are emails sent just to me by a real live friend. Life ponderings, prayers and prayer requests, encouragement, or invitations to get together, these are my computer priority, and almost always earn a reply.

Blogger and Wordpress will tell me if I have comments to approve for my blogs. I’ll read those, post them, and reply to them. On Blogger I will check out their profiles and their blogs if they have any. Then I stick in my USB thumb drive to upload the blogs I’ve written during my breaks at work. You can observe for yourself how frequently this happens. Finally I check Wordpress for my blog stats, to see which posts are the most popular and if there are any surges of traffic. My most popular articles are about auto warranty telemarketers, chivalry and romanticism, making grilled cheese sandwiches Sometimes I’ll get a hit on a post I forgot I wrote, and I go see what the post was about.

Next I open an additional Internet Explorer or Google Chrome window. I use that to do my projects. Maybe I’m going to search for some information. See if a book I heard about is at my library. Renew library items. Shop. Check my Etsy.com shop, Mi-Re-Do.com website, Googleads, or ebay. I like to download “Let My People Think” at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Maybe I’ll be researching for my blog or my business.

IMDB is the best website for information on movies and actors – unless you want to buy a movie, and then Amazon is the place. When I post book reviews, I post them to Amazon.com as well. To see a decent review of a recent mainstream movie, Plugged In is pretty good. They do have spoilers, and I don’t always agree with their assessments or interpretations, but they have accurate objectionable content evaluation. For Bible Study, I use Blue Letter Bible, which has multiple versions, an online Strong’s concordance that can cross-reference the Greek words and root words too. Del.icio.us is on my toolbar so that I can quickly bookmark any awesome but singular articles I find and want to remember. (Wordpress’s widget allows you to see my recent tags on Del.icio.us.)

If I am bored or lonely, I will frequently refresh Facebook and go searching for more than status updates on my friends, looking through their new photo albums especially. The best are babies and weddings, followed very closely by scenic pictures of far-off lands. When inspired, I update my own status. It usually has to do with what I did that day, will do tomorrow, or have been thinking. For some reason movies make frequent appearances.

When it seems my favorite blogs have been insufficiently updated, when I am craving a good intellectual read or a warm, encouraging girlfriend read, I’ll go to blogs that have lots of links and start exploring. Carolyn McCulley often has good links. Wordpress has a tag surfer feature to find like-topic blogs. Or I can search places like Ligonier Ministries or Boundless for interesting articles. When I find a blog I may want to follow, I do follow it, pasting its URL into my Blog Reader on Blogger. It’s an eclectic list, as you can see if you look on my Profile.

Before I turn off my computer, I refresh Facebook one more time and check for any new emails. Then I minimize any windows I want to keep open, close the rest, and put my little laptop into hibernation.

To God be all glory.