Friday, June 19, 2009

Life Is Life

Life is life there is no real rhyme or reason to why it happens the way it does. Why some people sail and others doggy paddle through it... the reason is unknown. Do I believe that as people we make our lives what it is? Yes, to a degree we can and do choose our own path. However, we don't often times get to choose the roadblocks that we run across along the way. They are put there in my opinion to challenge us, to make us stop and think, to make us grow. Why some peoples roadblocks are harder than others - I don't know. Why some people have mountains to climb and others a pebble to step over I don't know.

What I do know without a doubt is that one person's mountain is another's pebble and one person's pebble is another person's mountain. How a person choose to handle the roadblock often determines if it is a mountain or a pebble. The choice is theirs - let them make it.

On another yet similar note: I can't judge whether another person's life has been hard or easy - life is life! One person may be rich due to inheriting millions, what we may not know is the violence they endured growing up. One person may have very little money yet enjoy a quality of life few of us will ever have. We just don't know. To try and judge a person's life and say "oh they have never endured nothing" or "they have had it easy" is wrong and insulting to the person you are doing it to. You don't know their mind or their hearts or what goes on behind closed doors.

Currently in my life I have drama arising on all sides both in my own home, in my family and in my work environment. Some of it I can control, some of it I have to watch and hear unfold and other parts I can only pray for those enduring it. There is a part of me a very large part that wants to just reach out and fix it but A) I can't and B) If I could those individuals would learn nothing. So I sit and watch and try to keep my mouth shut. It's hard because I disagree with much that is being said and done. In my mind and in my soul I just simply disagree - Biting my tongue has never been my strong suit. I'm trying, sometimes unsuccessfully, but I am trying to stay out of much of it and keep my mouth shut.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

10 Years - High School Reunion

Just getting home from my 10 year reunion. I'd have to say it was nice to see everyone... even though the event itself was not what I expected. You walked in and there were dining tables set up to eat at, which is cool. However, there was no alcohol. Mingling generally requires alcohol for many people, especially me. Plus the way it was set up every one seem to come in find a table and sit. Some people were socially comfortable enough to get up and mingle, but most just talked to those at there table.

Some of us went out into the parking lot for some liquid courage, but having not expected to have to do so my hot mixed drink wasn't exactly tasty (we had brought alcohol knowing we were going to a party at a friends afterwards).

So overall it was nice to see everyone, but I wish the setup would have been a bit different; something to encourage mingling. I didn't even really feel comfortable taking pictures -> and you know that's not me!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Picaboo Photo Books - A Review

I'm wanting to get photo books to memorialize our various trips. A way to take the gazillion pictures I take and make them a quick, easy, viewable, life time memory. I found a service by the name of Picaboo that had a pretty easy to use tool and so I decided to turn our AK trip into a book.

I love my ideas, I love the way the layouts look - > the quality of the book is horrible. The pages are super thin, the colors on some of the pages are not solid (can see white shining through the background), and the binding is insanely crappy. These books wouldn't last 6 months much less a lifetime. Also, one of the covers came damaged. One book having issues, but both book having two distinctly different issues - that tells me something about the company.

So I sent them both an online inquiry last night about returning the books due to poor quality. When I didn't get a response acknowledging my inquiry I also sent an email. So today I get a response. I just love this response that I got from TWO PEOPLE one from the email and one from the online posting:

I'm terribly sorry that your photo book arrived in such poor condition. This is extremely uncommon, and I will report this to our production manager right away.

If possible, please take a few digital photographs of the quality issue to verify the nature of the defect, as well as help train our production team for quality assurance purposes.

When you have done this, please attach these images to your reply to this email. As soon as we receive your reply, we will provide you with further information regarding a reprint.

Again, we apologize for your books arriving in such poor quality. We want you to be happy with the products you receive from us and we take full responsibility for the poor quality of this order.

I await your reply containing these photos and sincerely appreciate your patience.

You did notice the "this is extremely uncommon" comment right - If it's so uncommon why do they have canned wording to respond to it. My response is below.

-The pictures are attached. As you can see on the one book there is a noticeable white line around the page that is completely unsatisfactory and the other book’s cover is obviously damaged. I’ve also noticed that on the book that has the cover damage that the glue holding it to the backing is already starting to give way in areas.

- I’m not in interested in a reprint. I want to send them both back to you and get a full refund. I am totally dissatisfied with the condition the books were received in, the quality of the paper they were printed on and the binding method used. These books wouldn’t last a year much less the lifetime I want them to last for my family.

- I’m also very upset at the canned response I received. As I told you in the email below I had also submitted this complaint online. I find it odd that “if this is extremely uncommon” that you and Grace would respond with the exact same email ((I gave ticket #). If it’s so uncommon why develop can wording to respond to it?

Please let me know ASAP what I need to do to facilitate a refund.

Maybe I was too harsh but I don't think so given the price I paid and the quality of these books. Its nutz! Don't use Picaboo! I'm going to try Smilebooks next; have read some pretty good reviews and I like their tool. We shall see.

I struggle

It's 4 am and I'm awake. I should have been asleep hours ago but here I sit, reflecting. My 10 year high school reunion is coming up on Saturday. 10 years - Part of me wonders "has it really been that long" other parts ask "really, it's only been 10 years"

Tonight I pulled out the year books and begin looking at how my life progressed from elementary school thru my senior year. It was an interesting trek down memory lane. As I reviewed the pictures and read the comments that people so willingly make in your annual it caused me to speculate. What choices did I make to get here?

In reading the comments, especially those in the high school year books, I can't help but wonder... Would that person be proud of who I am today? Would they be surprised? Did I live up to their expectations? The answer is grey for most, for some a timid yes and for others a resounding no. In school, at least up until my Senior year, I was super religious. I walked the walk, talked the talk and believed everything I was saying. Fact is I still do believe it (most of it) - just less vocally.

I still wonder though - Did I make a difference? Do I make a difference now? Is the direction my life is going now where I want it to be going? In retrospect, I can say my life now is happy - it's family, pictures and knowing I love and that I am loved! All of which are wonderful things. It's also bills, a seemingly dead end job, desire to make an impact somewhere despite the fact I have no impact left in me to make and the conviction that I should be doing something more.

Where is that conviction stemming from? Is it coming from my boredom at work? My comfy home life ? The fact that things are too good? Or is it God talking to me - telling me that I'm not where I need to be with him. That I'm putting my desires, my wants, my hobbies, my family, ME in front of him.

Matthew says " Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

And thus I struggle. I struggle with the war between living and living in God. They are two very distinct things. I am living! I am experiencing a life that is full of joy, hope and yes worry and disappointments. I know that turning to God and giving my life over to him completely is the way to go, or at least part of me does, the other part struggles with past issues.

All to often we look at our church as a pillar of strength. We view it as unbreakable - my experience tells me differently. I know in my head that a church is made up of people and that people, even good Godly people, make mistakes. I know that emotion is a part of any experience in life and that as people we can let it run us over. I know that a good portion of my last year at my previous church, or maybe even the last two years, was emotion as much as it was real. I know this and yet I struggle to learn from it and forget it. I struggle to walk back into a church without the doubtful thoughts - are they serious, do they believe it or is a show, is she raising her hand in praise or because the others are raising their hand? - going through my head. I know they are people with the same issues that I face every day. I know they have decided, or most of them, to follow God as best they can regardless of their personal issues. Yet still I struggle...

I've decided in the past that I could keep my walk with God and not have a church family to lean on. I've learned I can't. I need the support structure, I need the weekly or bi weekly services to help me stay focused. I can't seem to force myself to find it.

But the other side of me, (And yes I know the dedicated Christians reading this will say "that's the devil trying to confirm your doubts" ) the side that is living in the now says... what do you do that is so wrong? How is your life different now than it was when you were a sophomore in High School? Ok, so you drink every now and then (which by the way no matter how I go I do not believe is wrong as long as it is not done in excess, which I do not do anyway), you cuss (more than I should), you don't go to church and you're not on the best terms with some of your family. You still don't smoke, don't get drunk or even high on a regular basis, you are happily married and faithful, you work every day, you don't gamble and overall you live a safe - legal - pleasing life. Yep that's the other part of me.

I'm not sure which side will win. At this moment I'd love to say "I'm going to try a church on Sunday", but I know when Sunday roles around I'll sleep late and be lazy. I know there is a happy medium between the two lives, one that is both pleasing to God and to myself. I know if I walk in him, all things are possible. I know and yet I struggle.

Jamaica Day 2 and Part of 3

I'm relaxed - I mean really relaxed and it feels amazing.  Yesterday after the post they showed us a new room and I was really undecided...