Saturday, April 25, 2009

NOW what do we do???



You won't believe this. A friend introduced me to "Facebook" as an online way to connect with friends and re-connect with people you haven't seen in years. It's been kind of fun! The other evening, I did a search for people from a high school where I'd very much enjoyed the students in my chorus. Presto – there was the name of a girl who'd been a rather brilliant accompanist for me. Anything I put before her, she could play. Angie got so she could almost read my mind during warm-ups. We made a wonderful team, and here she was on Facebook! I sent her a quick note with a friend invitation and was a bit stunned by her reply. Clearly she had been shocked as her response read, "I don't want to seem rude, but is this a joke? I had been told that you had…passed away some years ago." WOW. How often do you get a note like that? Quickly I wrote back to let Angie know that I am fine and dandy and was sorry to stun her. She was so apologetic because especially at a class reunion she had shared with others this news she'd heard about me and she wanted to find a way to rectify the situation. Soon she'd posted this note on Facebook about me: "…just wanted to let you know the story that Karen Brook Westhaver had passed away is totally false! She is very alive and well and also here on Facebook…". Soon emails and Facebook friend invitations from other former chorus students began pouring in and I was inundated with lovely notes and fond memories and stories from our time together in chorus. In a way, it was kind of like my own personal little Easter! True, thankfully no crucifixion had been involved, but after lots of people had thought I'd died and existed only in their memory, suddenly here I am alive in their present!

Are you a bit in the doldrums after Lent is over and Easter is past? Although Easter is officially 50 days long until we get to the celebration of Pentecost, still…it sure feels "in between". If we have that "what do we do now?" kind of feeling, can you imagine how the disciples must have felt right at this time? Think about it. Jesus had been crucified, they'd learned about His resurrection but…what now? What were they to do now?

If we are honest about it, this is pretty much where we live a lot of the time. What are we supposed to do now? Does what we do have any meaning, purpose or benefit? How can God use us? And, with our very human times of doubting, does He even WANT us? What are we good for, anyway? Isn't it much better all the way around if we just sleep in on Sundays, keep our eyes on our work and entertainment the rest of the time, and forget about finding ways to participate in church, let alone sharing with others the benefit of belonging to a church family? Ah, my friends, this is where I get to share with you one of my favorite stories in the Bible.

In John 20: 19-29 We learn that the disciples had been gathered behind locked doors (in fear). "Jesus came in and stood among them. He said, "May peace be with you!" 20 Then he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were very happy when they saw the Lord.  21 Again Jesus said, "May peace be with you! The Father has sent me. So now I am sending you. [emphasis mine]" 22 He then breathed on them. He said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." Can you even begin to imagine their relief at having actually seen Jesus in such a personal way? But did you also notice that Jesus had a purpose larger than to reassure them: He came to commission them, to "send them out". It was now time for them to do the work of spreading the gospel and growing the church. Them. The *regular* people in their own way, empowered by the Holy Spirit, yes, but now they were to do the sharing without being in the background while Jesus taught. But the story gets even better. Here's where it REALLY relates to you and me and where we so often are.

In the encounter above, the disciple Thomas was not with the group. The following week, though, he was there when Jesus next came to be with them. Again, everyone was gathered with the door locked but still Jesus entered, passing through the door. He said, "May peace be with you!" 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here. See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe. 28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen me but still have believed."

Although Thomas had been told by the disciples of Jesus' earlier visit with them, still he was unconvinced. And Jesus' response to him? No lecturing, no punishing, no turning away, but He gave Thomas the most intimate invitation of all. BECAUSE of Thomas' doubt, Jesus invited him to put his hand into His side and the nail marks in His hands. So, friends, here's the deal. Jesus gives us ALL the same invitation. He yearns for us to become so close to Him that we become part of His body. And, being equipped with the Holy Spirit, our part of the bargain is the same as the disciples: we are now sent out. Throughout the Bible, the meekest, the weakest, the youngest and the oldest were among those who made the biggest difference in the growth and nurture of the church. Think of Abraham and Sarah who at 90+ became the parents of all the tribes of Israel. Considering of all this, who are any of us NOT to step up and step out? NOW what do we do? We roll up our sleeves, step out and in doing so, we receive the greatest blessing of all. Happy Easter-living all year long!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It’s just my opinion, and I could be wrong, but Word 2007 is DIABOLICAL – a rant



Not that I was crazy about it, but I could make Word 2003 work for me. But THIS! Whoever invented Word 2007 must truly be sadistic. Unbelievable!

So, can I just get it out of the way and say how much I HATE Word 2007??? GRRRRR!!!!!!!! WHY oh WHY did they have to make it so darned illogically different from Word 2003?????


Whatever ever happened to "auto save" when you messed up and stupidly forgot to save a document even though you were only a third done????? Whatever happened to that delightful function when you opened a new document it would show you the last one you were working on as another "fail safe" if you'd *lost* it????? Okay, okay. I finally figured out how to practically do an archeological dig to locate the auto-save function and how to adjust it. And did so. But, it happened, AGAIN!!!


GONE. My carefully crafted document with lists of music and composers which I've been plugging away at, my list of ALL the music (more than 29 pieces) I played on Good Friday which was recorded by some hoop-di-doo (I shouldn't joke....I'm extremely flattered they sent this very gifted, talented sound engineer who knows how to professionally and gorgeously do microphone placement especially for Steinways --- I'm just VERY frustrated, if you couldn't already tell) to record this whole event for later play-back(s) on WKXL. See, I hadn't made an actual list of all this music. For smoothness in turning to each piece seamlessly and as quietly as possible, I'd just chosen my order and numbered/placed a bunch of post-it notes throughout my whole stack of music.


Jack (at WKXL, the guy who'll be doing the playback for his programs.....will likely do this more than once....heck, it's almost 3 hours of music so who knows how many programs it will turn out to be) wanted me to make a list for him all of all the pieces/composers so he could announce them all. I never thought he'd do that. Yikes. So, already, LOTS of pressure long before this word processing program began to torture me. I practiced my brains out for this. Somebody should have just shot me…it's been years since I've played at a sustained concert level like this, and then never this long! See, it wasn't an ego thing. I just thought it would be great free publicity for our church as well as some nice music for the listeners.


AAAACK!!! Can you believe it? It happened yet again! I'd set the "auto-save" function to do its thing every 5 minutes, but I must type way faster than I thought. Zappo. Somehow it all vanished again but I could only locate 1/3 of it! Back I went and re-adjusted this to auto-save my document literally once every minute, in addition to constantly "saving" it manually myself.


Well, the third time must have been, as they say, "the charm", either that or God mercifully took pity on my frazzled brain and intervened. FINALLY the list is intact. I wasn't taking any chances. Not only did I copy/paste it into the body of an email, but I also sent it as an attachment as well. Now we'll see what happened to it when it hit cyberspace!


Rant rant rant. I try to persuade myself that learning new things is a good thing. But deep down I ask myself, just why do they have to go and change something just for the sake of making something *new*????? In this case, in my opinion, "new" is most definitely NOT better. Grrrrrr.

The Most Dangerous Chocolate Cake in the World



My friend Mary sent me this recipe and boy am I glad we're beyond Lent! What am I kidding, in my la-la land of denial. It is SO no "lo-carb", I'm quite positive that just reading this recipe caused some hip swellage! But, as it sounds quite extraordinary and who knows…it could save somebody's terrible chocolate craving, I simply must share! You won't believe how easy it is! You make it in a mug in your microwave! Who'd a thought?? Just consider (or rationalize) about making it as something to share as a special treat with someone else. It'll make you feel less guilty, and who knows – perhaps even a little virtuous! Only like 5 minutes to whip up!

Here goes:


4 tablespoons flour 
4 tablespoons sugar 
2 tablespoons cocoa 
1 egg 
3 tablespoons milk 
3 tablespoons oil 
3 tablespoons
chocolate chips (optional) 
A small splash of vanilla extract 
1 large
coffee mug (MicroSafe)

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well.  Add the egg and mix thoroughly.

 Pour in the milk and oil and mix well..

Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again. 
Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.

The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!

Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
EAT ! (this can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).

And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world? 
Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night!