Tuesday, September 26, 2017

5 Steps to a Better Facebook Feed

I have noticed another round of people becoming aware of the need for privacy settings on Facebook. I have had numerous friends ask me how I filter my feed. I not only control who sees what, but I also control what I see from other people. It is surprising how much more peaceful and useful Facebook becomes when you filter things properly. I finally had time to sit down and make a tutorial with pictures. It is super easy.
Step 1
Locate your master friends list
 Step 2
Create lists to group people into. Facebook has a couple of defaults you can use such as close friends, local friends, and acquaintances. I have added to that a good bit to include a group for church people, geeky people, only women, and a few other categories that have been useful.
Step 3
Now click the spot where is says "See all friends" and use the drop down box to put each friend into the boxes you want them in. This doesn't take as long as it might sound. I probably did all of mine in less than a half hour.

Step 4
When you post, there is a box asking you which group of friends you want to post to. This probably takes the most getting use to. Normally, mine stays on "close friends" and only about 25 people see it. When I do switch to a different group, I have to remember to change it back for the next post. Another thing that is handy about this is there is a tiny icon that goes with the categories. Public is a globe, close friends is a star, local is a map point, and various other things. When you start to notice those, you can tell what settings other friends have used for their posts. I avoid posting on public posts, which is funny, because when I post about this I will probably make it public. 

Step 5
This is how you filter what you see from others. There are 3 little dots in the corer of every post. Click there for a drop down box. There is an option there to unfollow without unfriending. This means you don't see what they post, but you haven't unfriended them either. This comes in handy for those relatives that are still posting 3 year old memes, "only 10% of people will repost...", and outrage over satirical articles. There is also an option to just see less of the specific type of post. So, if you have a person posting game updates all the time, you can hide the game entirely. I haven't seen a Facebook game notice in at least a year. It is lovely.

There it is, 5 simple steps to a happier facebook feed. I know it takes a little time, but it is well worth it.
One little bonus tip, you can actually select to only see the feeds from a specific group of friends. All you do is go back to the friend list page from step 2 and click on the list you want to see. It will automatically filter your feed.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Big, BIG news

The past 12 hours has brought some rather unexpected news to our home.
Last night, Nikki confessed to something she had been keeping a secret. Over the summer, we attended special Monday night church services with several different guest speakers. During one of these nights, Nikki became convicted that she had not fully given her life to God. That night, she had asked God for help. She accepted Christ into her heart, and has felt a beautiful change come over her. As a person who remembers her first profession of faith and baptism, I didn't want to question her faith, but I knew that the fruits had just not been there. She tried, but the good seemed a passing phase while there was anger taking root. I feared for her as she was about to enter college, and then all of that changed. Not just her actions and attitude, but also my worry seemed to fade. Now I know why. She told us last night because she knew she needed to make it public and be baptized. She had backed out of saying something a few times. She was worried how we would take it. Would we accuse her of lying about her faith up until now? Would we understand? How could she explain? All of that doubt and worry were put to rest very quickly, and we helped her make a plan to walk forward today and publicly profess her desire to follow Christ. 
During our time talking, Jack was uncharacteristically quiet. I looked at him, smiled, and basically said, "It's okay. You can say it. I already know." It all came spilling out. He didn't remember accepting Christ. He had no memory of his baptism. Because he has always been in church, he knew what to say, how to act, and what it should look like, but it wasn't touching his heart. He had doubts. Big giant doubts. Since Nikki had just poured out her testimony to us, I shared my own, and then Rocky shared his. Jack sat in silence knowing that he had nothing to share. We made it clear to him that this was between him and God, not us. He could not just say the magic salvation words, mainly because there is no such thing, but also because this needed to be serious business between him and God, and done for no other reason than wanting a true and complete relationship with Christ. He wasn't ready to make any decisions. You can probably guess how well I slept last night. The day before I thought I had two kids on a righteous path, seeking God, and all headed towards Heaven. To have that now called into question left me restless in the worst way. As I laid there trying to sleep at 12:30, I felt a sudden pull to go pray at the foot of Jack's bed. I obeyed, but walked away confused not knowing why. This morning, I found out why. When I went up, Jack had only been asleep maybe 10 minutes. He had been up praying to God to guide him into salvation. Jack asked God to forgive his sinful life, asked for the Holy Spirit to come into his heart, and fully committed to following Christ. 
This morning, my kids walked up together before a congregation that they only knew a few of, to a pastor they had never met, and told him that they had both accepted Christ and wanted to make it public this morning.
I don't think proud is the right word for how I am feeling. Overjoyed, relieved, or happy doesn't cover it either. I think I am just very full of all the good emotions available. More than anything I am thankful. Thankful that God caught what I missed. Thankful that He moved my kids, and cared for them more than I ever could. Thankful for the salvation of my entire home. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

You Found Us

With my daughter off at college, I have taken up a new hobby. Cyber stalking all the new people she meets. Kidding! Sort of. I like putting a face to a name, and my kid isn't one of those girls who takes pictures of new friends or daily activities or food. (not complaining on this point) I only look up public social media information. Interesting side note, kids today are pretty good about locking down the security on their accounts, their parents, not so much. I always learn more about people from their mother's facebook page than I do from their own activity. At the moment, my son is still pretty hard to track down info on. His name is generic enough to confuse google searches, and he has none of the expected social media accounts. My daughter, well, she has my distinctive first name which means, if someone searches her, they will end up finding me and this blog. I did a quick search to see if there was anything horribly embarrassing. I didn't find anything too bad, and I feel it is my responsibility to correct that oversight. So, without further ado, I present:

 "A letter to the person google searching my kid"

Congratulation! You have hit the mother load of information here. If you want to, you can now scroll through several years in the life of our quirky little family, and musings of the mother of the kid you are looking into. OR, I could save you a little time and sum things up for you.
- God is at the center of our family. It is why we are still happily married, why we are never free on Sundays or out too late on Saturdays, and the first reason why we don't really fit into the "normal" box. We strive to be faithful and committed followers of Christ. We do have friends outside of those we go to church with. We aren't isolated amish type people. We are just serious about our faith.
- We were geeky before being a geek was socially acceptable. I have worn a costume for occasions other than Halloween. I have been to conventions (yes plural). I have stood in line for tickets to a premier showing of a movie that started with the word "Star" more than once. Most of the art work in our house has something nerdy about it. We try to dial it back when we meet new people, but sooner or later you will see us in a t-shirt you don't understand and we will make a Harry Potter joke that we don't realize not everyone was also thinking.
- We aren't very social. We have friends. We get out. We do things. We just aren't the type to throw parties. I have never been clubbing. We haven't ever vacationed with people who aren't family. I can't even think of anything else social people might do, which should paint a pretty good picture of how little we get out.
- Our family is very close. We do our best to share at least one meal a day with each other during which we share about our lives and laugh a lot. Our conversations are rarely boring because we are the type of people who will say that weird thought out loud. Just yesterday JD asked, "What would be the worse song to play at a funeral?" This was followed by each of us suddenly interrupting other topics to name another song. My husband won with "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead".
If anything you have read here, or elsewhere on the blog, concerns you, you might want to run now. If your kid has become attached to one of my kids, relax, we are good people. We are quirky, but mostly the harmless fun kind of quirky. I hope we get to meet face to face one day, but if we do, I promise to overlook you knowing things you shouldn't, like our cat's name, if you overlook my knowing where your last vacation was.    

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Define "Substantial'

More often than not, I strive to write with a bit of humor and a lighthearted take on whatever is going on. This is not going to be one of those posts. This goes more under the heading of an uncomfortable look at reality.
Recently, I have noticed a lot of articles being shared on social media about Iceland's excitement over "ending" Down Syndrome. Since it is a chromosomal abnormality, their method of "curing" this is actually just killing everyone they suspect might have it before they are born. Their only regret seems to be that they occasionally get false negatives and one of these kids slips through and is born. Personally, this all seems monstrous to me. I can not even being to fathom how an entire country could be so blind to genocide. Even still, there are people who will look past it or make excuses.
My question is, after eradicating this, which abnormality will they target next? Make no mistake, there will be a next, and something after that one, and on and on in an effort to only let "perfect" babies have a chance at life. How far will they go?
In an effort to answer this question, I did a little research. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published a handy guide in 2010 on what constitutes a fetal abnormality that warrants termination when a mother is past 24 weeks of pregnancy. This covers England, Scotland, and Wales.    This is how they define it.
         "There is no legal definition of substantial risk. Whether a risk will be regarded as substantial may vary with the seriousness and consequences of the likely disability. Likewise, there is no legal definition of serious handicap. An assessment of the seriousness of a fetal abnormality should be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all available clinical information."

In short, they don't. It is up to the doctor. To be more specific, if you can get two doctors to sign a paper saying they think there is at least a 50% chance that your child will have something they deem serious, you can abort the baby after 24 weeks.
They go to great pains to make is appear as if it is only used in cases where a child would most likely die shortly after being born or if the mother would die, but that is not how it is written. Consequently, there is a rather well known case in which the Church of England attempted to have a doctor charged with aborting a child after 24 weeks. The baby was diagnosed in the womb as having a cleft palette. An investigation was opened, and it was determined that since two doctors said it was okay, they did not have grounds to charge the doctor who performed the abortion.
In case you are new to knowing me, you should know that I was born with a cleft palette. As you can imagine, I take this case rather personally. When I was born, the doctor told my parents that if you were given a list of birth defects and told you had to pick one for your child to have, a cleft palette would be the one to pick. It is the easiest to fix. No one knows I had one unless I tell them. It took a total of 2 surgeries to correct. Sure, it wasn't a walk in the park, but it was easier to deal with than something like a peanut allergy.  The point is, if they could legally justify aborting a child for a cleft, then they can justify literally anything that they might consider an imperfection.
Killing everyone suspected of having Down Syndrome is a test case. If they can get away with it then they will move to another defect. As prenatal testing gets better, so will the number of things they attempt to end.
It won't be long before they make the case for killing the babies born alive who were missed in the screening. It isn't even that big of a leap. Once you start down the road of deciding who deserves a chance at life, you open the door to debate. It is a debate we will lose.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Buy All the Things!

Nix leaves for college a week from tomorrow. To answer the most common first question. I'm actually doing really well with it. I'm still just really excited for the adventure she is starting. I'm sure it will hit me about halfway into the ride home from taking her. She will still be close by, so if I miss her terribly, I can just drive down and lure her into meeting me with the offer of free food and a full gas tank.
Since she is my first to go off to college, I have been reading a ton of articles on what to bring with you and what not to. They are hilariously contradictory.

Buy a cheap set of plates, glasses, and utensils because it is so much cheaper than paper products.
Don't waste your money on reusable dinnerware. You kid won't want to wash it and will end up using paper products.

Buy a stick vacuum because it takes up less space and will keep the floor neat.
Your kid will vacuum exactly once this year and it will be when they move out. Save your money and just bring your's when you come for move out day.

Buy a printer. It can be hard to get a school printer to work and it costs extra money.
Don't bother with a printer. Most assignments are emailed in now and a school printer is always open. Personal printers never work when you need them too.

Get a big meal plan. The freshmen 15 isn't going to appear magically.
Get the smallest meal plan allowed and stock the dorm with easy foods.

Color coordinate and make it feel like a home with lots of comfy throw pillows.
Don't waste money of decorative things. This is a dorm room not a house. Throw pillows just get thrown in the floor they aren't vacuuming.

Don't forget school supplies! They will still need the full list of notebooks, pencils, crayons, glue,...
Get a few basics, but don't go crazy on school supplies. Your college town will have a Walmart. Let your kid get what they need as they need it.

Get a full basket of cleaning supplies. A clean dorm is a happy dorm.
*insert the laughter of experienced parents* Just get lysol wipes and try not to look at the bathroom on Parent's weekend.

The bottom line is, know your kid, think about how they live now, and then shop with common sense accordingly.  I am sure I have forgotten several important things, and I would never pretend to claim to have the perfect packing list. I do however know where the closet Walmart, Target, drug store, and gas station are to the campus, so I think we are good to go.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Calm in the Storm

Have you ever had a song follow you around? You hear it once, and then for the next week you seem to hear it over and over. It plays in the store, it is on the radio when you get in the car, a clip of it plays in a show on tv, everywhere you turn, there it is, forcing you to notice it.

I have had a Bible verse stalk me until I read it the way I needed to hear it. It isn't a verse that is new to me at all. In fact, it is from a standard Bible story that I have heard since I was a little girl.
After not paying attention to it in the right way God sent it to me at 3:30 A.M. (I really need to start paying better attention during daylight hours.)

In Matthew 8, Jesus is on a boat with his disciples. A big storm comes up, and is really knocking the ship about. Everyone panics except Jesus, who is napping through it.  I am sorry to report that I know I would have been one of the people waking Him up, handing Him a rope or bucket, and giving Him that look that says, "Are you seriously sleeping through this?" I am not proud that that is who I am, but I might as well be honest about it. 
 Matthew 8:26, Jesus gets up, looks at them, and asks them why they are afraid. He then tells the wind and waves to cut it out, and the storm instantly stops. Everything is calm again.
The word that got to me at 3:30 was "calm". I don't know about you, but when I am up at that hour it is never thanks to me being calm. My first thought was, "Hey, I could use some of that calm about now!" There I was, standing in that boat, waking up Jesus to tell Him it was raining. I needed the wind knocked out of my sails. I was awake because of worry and fear. Sure, outside forces had started the waves, but I am the one who let it become a 3 o'clock tsunami. I wasn't preparing and then resting with the knowledge that God is handling it. I was asking God for the wrong thing. I don't need the storm to calm. I need to be calm in the storm, and let God handle it.

How many times have I heard that message? How many times has that verse laid open in front of me? How many times has God held me through a storm? Why, oh why, did it take a 3A.M. wake up call for me to actually hear what it was saying?
I have been listening to the lightening and thunder because they are louder and frightening. Instead, I desperately need to sit back, and take a rest with Jesus while God handles the storm. 
Even now, even after I have seen this with a fresh heart, there is my little inner "Martha" who whispers, "There is work that somebody has to do. You can't just all go take a nap and assume you'll wake up on the other side of this." That isn't entirely wrong. I can't just skip this trouble. I can't ignore it, and pretend it isn't there. However, that isn't what resting in the Lord looks like. Instead, it looks like picking up your Bible, hitting your knees in prayers, and knowing the answer is there. God not only has the answer, He already wrote it down for me. I even know where it is. I found it in the passage around the verse I made the picture on this post for, Psalms 107. Funny how it is about a calming of the sea, too. Now my job is to relax, leave it in His hands, and stop putting wind in the sails with worry and fear.

And He said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?" Then He rose and rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a great calm." - Matthew 8:26

Friday, June 16, 2017

You're Kidding Me, Right?

Since I turned 40 this year, and my last trip to the doctor for a simple well physical was in a year that may have started with 19, I thought it was time to catch up on my health. Be a little proactive for a change. This was a horrible idea. Okay, not horrible, it will probably save me a lot of worry and such down the road, but it hasn't been a fun trip.
Through an odd set of circumstances, which involves me getting shingles the week before my scheduled appointment, I was able to have my mammogram early. This is a little sad to admit, but the only reason I could accurately tell them the date of my last mammogram was because I wrote a blog post about it. I failed this one even more spectacularly than the last. The people at the imaging center seemed sort of impressed by how messed up I am. The good news is, it is all harmless, and just who I am. Weird, inside and out. The bad news is, they had to stab me to be sure.
Today was my full physical. I had to fast. Me. Fast. I took food with me so that I could eat as soon as the blood was drawn.
When I got to the office, there was an older woman there who started having some sort of problem that caused a stir with the office people, and the EMS being called. I wasn't sure what was wrong, but I heard them rush them to room 7. Much to my surprise, instead of the old lady, they wheeled out a man with no shirt and only one shoe. Shortly after, I was called back and put in room 7. It smelled strongly of cleaner. None of this is comforting.
The nurse who took me back did everything except send me for my blood draw. It had obviously been a crazy morning there, so I tried to wait, but at 11 I knew I needed food, and asked to have my blood drawn done. As it turns out, the older woman had been fainting (as in more than once), and they were in no hurry to have another one drop today.
As I walked out, two hours later, I realized that the people in the waiting room had no idea of the very unusual day the office was having. They only knew that they'd been waiting an hour, and were probably not happy about it. Then it dawned on me that although this particular set of circumstances was unusual, it isn't unusual for doctor's offices to have to deal with the unexpected on a daily basis. I may be a tad bit more patient in waiting rooms from now on.
 I should maybe mention that since it is my week to fail tests, I also failed my EKG, but not in a bad way, just in a "that's weird" way that wins me a trip to a cardiologist. Hopefully, I will also impress their office with my ability to be weird, and yet completely fine.