Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Two articles I wrote today

Today I wrote two articles. I know, I know.... will miracles never cease?

I just finished this one:

How to Use Pinterest to Promote Your Webdesign Business - Klamath Design

While doing that I made a Pinterest business page for my Klamath Design site.

Visit Klamath Design's profile on Pinterest.

Earlier today I wrote a somewhat whimsical article on my Antediluvian Adventures blog. The blog is for the book series I wrote, with that title.

Today's blog post was ostensibly written by the main character of the the first book, Raoli. I'm using his voice on the blog to help myself get back into character, as I'll be working on these books this coming year.

It was kind of fun and I'll probably do it again.

Monday, December 28, 2015

On Changing Churches

I've been a Christian only two and a half years at this point. I was saved two weeks after moving to Idaho. During this time I was loyal to the church I went to the day I was saved. I never considered moving to another church even though one was available to me. I liked my pastor's sermons and enjoyed going to the church to see a lot of familiar, friendly faces.

A few weeks ago, something happened to change my mind. I was at home, listening to the sermon which streams live over the internet. I wasn't at church because the woman who usually gave me rides there was sick. I do not own a car.

The pastor started talking about how many articles on the internet contain erroneous information. While this is true, the discussion of it from the pulpit gave me a heads-up feeling for several reasons. You see, I'm a person who makes a living by writing articles on the internet. I'm a blogger and affiliate marketer.

I wondered if he was talking about my websites. I don't know if he ever reads any of my articles, but he's so critical of things he reads on the internet, I realized he'd probably find something to criticize in my internet writing efforts too, if he ever reads them.

Even if it wasn't my articles being read, I thought it was inappropriate to cast doubt on all people who write on the internet, especially coming from a man in a pulpit. Then I realized that at a recent church meeting for seniors, I'd gotten up and introduced myself as a person who blogs for a living. Now were all those people going to think less of me because our pastor stated that internet writers can't be trusted?

I thought my reaction was ridiculous, but at the same time, I thought, "I'm tired of hearing this." I realized he'd said many things about what he'd read on the internet by other Christians whose work he didn't agree with or respect. I'd also heard before that he didn't like blogging.

This thought came to me: "I've sent my money into this church for months, for this?" Of course, the money is a donation to Jesus, not just to an individual church, so that thought is off base as well, in some ways. But it did make me want to re-evaluate what I'd been doing.

I seriously felt like someone who had just been through an earthquake. My paradigm for Christian living had just been shaken. I was unhappy with my pastor and my reaction was something I was questioning and re-questioning.

I went to the contact page of the church website and sent the pastor a very short email to let him know I'd been listening and wanted him to know I'm a professional blogger and that we all would like to have some respect for our professions.

I waited ... but there was no email response. This didn't surprise me too much. I'd emailed the church at least twice in the past without receiving a response. I wondered if my emails had gone into a black hole. I wondered if they had been read.

The next week, the pastor mentioned during his sermon that people who have their feelings hurt should just not feel that way, and that we shouldn't be offended and that's a trick of the devil, or something like that. Again, I wondered if he was talking about me or some other situation he was dealing with.

In case it was about me, I thought that was a shoddy way to answer an email. Instead of having a real one-on-one communication with this pastor, all I was getting was pot-shots from the pulpit, possibly directed at me, possibly at some unknown other. I realized I had no real relationship with this pastor. It was all about listening to him.

There are two secretaries in his office. If he doesn't want to answer emails, couldn't he delegate that task to one of the secretaries so that people wouldn't think their emails had been ignored?

I realized that a lot of the problem was that I was having negative thoughts about the pastor. I realized it could be time for me to think about going to a different church.

This is a problem for me, because this one church is the closest to my home, and is within walking distance - only a mile from my apartment. Transportation is an issue as I have no car.

I started looking around for other churches, using Google Maps as a guide. This took me to several local church websites and I got a good education on what's out there in case I wanted to switch churches.

Nothing seemed to be a good fit - except for one church I already had a history with - a small church in Washington, four miles away. I started attending their women's Bible studies a few years back because my church had almost no women's ministry. My church's approach to women's ministry was to have a series of three or four meetings once a year if we were lucky, at which the pastor's wife would get up on the stage and talk as if she was the pastor. Really, it was no different than going to church, but with a different speaker.

(Keep in mind that my church has about 1500 regular attendees, no consistent women's ministry, and no home groups. The pastor didn't trust others to speak from his pulpit so we listened to him three times a week, and guest speakers only happened if he was on vacation, or at a conference, traveling, or something like that.)

The other church was much smaller - only about 200 members, but they had a thriving women's ministry. There were evening Bible studies for women once weekly, and also a Bible study for women one weekday morning each week. They offered real friendship and support for the women of their church, and for others like me, who came in from other churches. They also had annual women's retreats - and I've already attended two of them.

The pastor at the other church supported women's ministry so much that he allowed two women in his congregation to improve their ministry skills by speaking to his congregation on Sundays once in a while. I noticed that he also allowed his wife to speak to him from the audience on Sundays in a conversational manner, and it was just like being in their family room at times. I liked that they worked together as a team.

My first pastor is almost never seen with his wife at church and I've always found that strange. All this made me wonder if women are being suppressed at this church I'd spent so many months at. Why almost no women's ministry, and why is the wife never seen standing next to the pastor? Why does the male worship leader do most of the lead singing when the woman standing next to him sings so much better than he does?

Why do I have so many bad thoughts about these people?

Something was not right there. I blamed myself for all my bad thoughts - after all - these are Godly people, good people, and followers of Jesus.

I realized that the problem is that I needed to go elsewhere, despite the distance. I was being transplanted from one church to another, from a large congregation to a much smaller one. I realized that a pastor with a smaller congregation naturally will value his people more than one with more than a thousand to care for. I realized I had no real two-way relationship with the first pastor. I was ready to try something new. Maybe the pastor at the church I'm now starting to attend will talk to me like a friend rather than just another warm body occupying one of the chairs in his church on Sundays.

I went to the smaller church last Sunday. They have a wonderful worship team. The pastor was awesome, and his teaching style was different, and somehow friendlier. I am finally ready to immerse myself in their church, their sermons, and their activities. I'm looking forward to this change and am happy to be transplanted into the place where I've found most of my friends, nurturing, and shepherding during the two and a half years since I became a Christian.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

My writing business, snow, and my son's visit

Sometimes it is better to write a little than not to write at all. I like this blog because I feel like I can write tiny posts without it harming anything.

Some of my other blogs are there for more important purposes, and so I write articles with a minimum of 500 words, and sometimes much, much longer. The pressure to write long articles is enormous because they do better in search engine results.

Today I've set before myself the task of writing 2 articles. One is a revision of an unpublished old article on what to do if your home business gets more business than you can handle. The other - I think will be on parental rights for disabled people.

And now, a prayer:

Heavenly Father, please help me with my writing. You alone know how hard this is for me. You are the only one who watches as I stumble and fall, and you know how much failure has become the norm for me. Please help me today and every day to get my work done and to write articles that are truly useful to those who need to read them. Let me do it all for You. In the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

It snowed all night on Thursday/Friday this week and we're expecting a lot more snow before Christmas. In the two years since I moved to Idaho, I've never seen deep snow. I saw deeper snow when I lived in Happy Camp, in California.

It gets a lot colder here, though, and the snow freezes to the pavement, whereas in Happy Camp the roads were usually cleared right away. People here drive on frozen, icy packed snow like it was just nothing.

This is what I saw when I woke up Friday morning. This is what Northern Idaho is supposed to look like in the winter... though too often I see no snow at all. The snow here is only four inches.

When I went into my office (a bedroom in my apartment) I saw that my window was iced over. I'm trying to train myself to take photos whenever I see something awesome... because I know it won't last long. Something will change. The ice melts, or light patterns change. So I snapped a few photos right away.

Once I settled into my office chair, which is a chaise lounge with a card-table desk that goes over it, I saw this sight out that window. The roofs, covered by white, and the icy window slowly warming.

That table is for filing. The little green-topped Truvia jars are what I keep little things in - like rubber bands, buttons, paper clips, etc..

Last week I decided to sponsor a poverty-stricken child in Mexico. I wrote about it on my Prayer-Power blog: Prayer for Children Living in Poverty. I love this little girl and want so much to be a blessing to her and her family, and her town. Her name is Brisia and she's eight years old, of Mayan descent.

A few weeks ago my youngest son came by to visit. I hadn't seen him in over a year so this was a wonderful event for me. I had to walk down to the truck stop on the corner, and he came rolling in with an 18-wheeler.

We ate dinner together at the Subway in the truck stop. This is how he gets his vegetables... something only a mom would spend time thinking about, I guess.

Okay, I'm ready for another visitor. Who wants to be next?

I'd better go do some serious writing now.