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Journal: Long-Awaited-Update 14

Journal by Liora

Those of you that were here oh, two and a half years ago, that are still reading this, should know that I'm alive, that Shimmin and I went through counseling for a year over a year ago and that I thought he was better but he wasn't. So he was violent one last time on Saturday and something in me broke and I asked him to move out. He did so on Thursday. I'm calling this a temporary separation, but I really don't know what it is.

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Journal: Well, I think there is a resolution 15

Journal by Liora

The couple I have been fretting over has reached a resolution that I think will work out. If it happens again, even one more time, he's going to leave for a while, and there are witnesses to back that up and make sure that it really happens. In the meantime, he's going to get some help. Reading your responses helped my friend know that she could take a stand and require that he get help as well as blow the air of secrecy surrounding the whole thing without feeling like she's being overbearing or demanding, which is what I hoped it would do for her. You guys are awesome. (And thank goodness you are predictably awesome with good answers and statements to sufficiently empower a pretty distraught wife.)

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Journal: Update... 1

Journal by Liora

Hello. I am back. Some snippets of my life...

...Bread Box - The gig at The Bridge went well. Thanks to all of you for coming. Thanks to my band members for being cooler than me. All in all, it wasn't a bad second performance. I can't complain.

...Plainfield, IN - My little sister has too much energy. Dad and Shimmin discussed the pros and cons of using satellite driven microwaves to stop hurricanes and discussed the economics of such a system as well (conclusion: insurance companies would be happy to pay a million to save them a billion). Dorothy was there but I didn't get to talk to her much. Strange. Grandma W and Dorothy dug up a bunch of irises for us and we picked them up after getting back to the Indy airport from Denver yesterday. I like Grandma W a lot.

...Fort Morgan, CO - Grandparent S's doing ok. I like Grandma S a lot. Cut down branches. Shimmin climbed a tree and cut a limb down with a bow saw! Any more than 4 pieces of TP will clog their toilet, so we paper bagged our stuff. Gross. Water tasted funny. Got bad headache w/ waves of nausea that I still have today. Funny tasting water is not good for upset tummies. Grandma S sent us home with a white phlox bulb. Rare, supposedly.

...Small group last night was moved to Perkins when one of our members had a brush with the police and some other stuff I won't go into. Eggs are not good for upset tummies.

...Went to Hardees for lunch and ate a big chicken sandwich. Sprite is good for upset tummies.

...House cleaned for what may be zero guests this evening. House cleaning is good for upset tummies.

...Pregnancy can give someone an upset tummy. No, I'm not pregnant. Yes, we even checked, because I've had a lot of nausea lately - I think I've puked on six different days in the past month, ten in the past two months.

...Made it through the pile of correspondence here at work already. Going back to project shortly.

...Finished the last of my VALT requirements so I can go back to reading things I want to read and writing my novel. Reading for fun is good for upset tummies.

User Journal

Journal: Well... 8

Journal by Liora

So I haven't been posting here much. I went and got a livejournal a while back and it seems like my posts have been mostly there lately.

Anyway, I'm in a band. We're called Bread Box. We're set to do our first show tomorrow at noon. But... we won't be able to do it without practice tonight. And... our drummer's company films commercials, and his commercial for the day just started, so he might either be late for or miss practice, and not be able to come to the show tomorrow. And, our sound engineer, who could help us cover on djembe with an acoustic set is getting dread locks put in his hair this evening...

I am just so messed up. Big hopes..., big fall. I don't know what we'll do... I mean... we have some stuff that can be played with two guitars and a bass, but most of it will just sound utterly lame. Those of you that are of the praying sort that can mutter a prayer for me not to spiral into depression no matter what happens, and for the drummer to film a commercial in record time, and for Bread Box and our show tomorrow in general. Thanks.

Sometimes I hate being me. Maybe this whole band thing was just a bad idea. Except that it's been my dream since I was little....

User Journal

Journal: Religious survey... 19

Journal by Liora

Richard's Simple Theo-Survey

Who were/are the top 3 Christian thinkers (apart from Jesus or the apostles)?
Lewis, Luther, Wesley

Do you think that the objects of theology are fundamentally rational?
Yeah

What is the proper relationship between theology and philosophy?
God created thought, so perhaps Theology creates Philosophy?

What is the proper relationship between theology and science?
Science describes the world that God made. Science does not validate theology (nor should theologians expect it to).

What is the proper relationship between philosophy and science?
Philosophy describes the thoughts of science.

God: One Substance and Three Persons or Three Hypostatic beings?
The former

Who sends the Holy Spirit? Does it matter?
Jesus SENT the HS. (OK, and God sent Him a few times too.) But He's here, and He's God. That's all that matters.

Does the host's meaning come from Transubstantiation, Consubstantiation, Symbolism, or something else?
Is it possible to belive the elements are symbolic and still believe there is power in communion? If not, I've gotta go with consubstantiation.

Natural theology: Nay or Yay?
Umm...

Do you hold to any certain eschatological stance?
Dispensationist turned inaugurated enacted eschatologist with amillennialist leanings.

Human Will: Are you a libertarian, molinist, hard determinist, compatiblist, or something else?
Something else - can I call myself a conservative evangelical appealing to the fundamental belief in the inerrancy and sufficiency of scripture?

Apologetics: Do you prefer classical, evidential, presuppositional, existential or something else?
No.

Mysticism: Does it (need to) play a role in a person's spiritual life?
Depends on your definition of mysticism.

Governance: Episcopal, Presbyterian, Congregational, Libertarian or other?
Apostolic

Should there be a sharp distinction between clergy and laity?
No.

Do you agree with common law marriage?
No, but I'd certainly never tell someone that they are not married in the eyes of God or something if they had a common law marriage that was recognized by the state.

Should Christians fight during a war?
Yes, but only some wars

Same Sex Marriage or Civil unions: right, wrong or "who cares"?
Not my decision, thank goodness.

What role do the Christian scriptures have in contemporary ethics?
Are contemporary ethics really ethics?

What is a proper Christian attitude towards a person who commits suicide?
Sad and sympathetic.

Who are the top 3 Christian artists of our time?
Bono, Switchfoot, can Willard count?

What is the most pressing issue that confronts Christianity at this time?
Us.

Should there be such a thing as Christian Pop Culture?
No, provided there is still a place to purchase Veggie Tales after CPC's demise.

Can a Christian vote Liberal/Left Wing/Democrat or Conservative/Right Wing/Republican?
A better question is "Can a Christian NOT vote, or vote for someone they wouldn't actually want to win?"

Should Christian's work to 'Christianise' the morality of their nation via censorship laws?
No. We live in a nation of notional Christians. Legislating moraltiy does more harm than good, makes more enemies than friends.

Can a Christian support the death penalty?
No.

Where do you see the Western (North America/Europe) Christian church in fifty years? Small.
Loss of nominal Christians will be good b/c more solidarity, bad b/c of fewer believers.

Where do you see the southern (South America/Africa/Asia) Christian church in fifty years?
Huge. Leading the Western church.

Augustine, Aquinas, Pseudo Dionysus, Calvin, Luther, or Barth: Who would win in a bar fight?
Luther. Hands-down. One hand tied behind his back. On one leg. Blindfolded.

Take this survey at http://www.kwiz.biz/simplesurveys/do-survey.php. Or just copy the plaintext version from my blog.

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Journal: Just in case it doesn't make the Science section... 7

Journal by Liora

Today at the 17th International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation in Dublin, Cambridge University professor Stephen Hawking said in his talk titled The Information Paradox for Black Holes that he was wrong about the formation of an event horizon in a black hole, and that matter is not destroyed in a way defying subatomic theory, as he had previously believed. According to the talk's short, "the way the information gets out seems to be that a true event horizon never forms, just an apparent horizon." A New York Times story and aWired story are available, both apparently based on Reuters information.

Is it just me, or is that big freaking news?

[Edit: I missed the boat. Slashdot apparently covered it here. Which begs the question... Why is the NYT only covering this today?]

User Journal

Journal: Hmm... 2

Journal by Liora

...Let me preface this by saying I am not an idiot. I'm really not.

Ok, that said, is there anybody out there in my readership that is familiar with the www.8020.net Industrial Erector Set? (Or at least somewhat mechanically minded that can give it a whirl?) I've never used the thing before, and if I had the pieces in front of me, I could build what I need to build, but I don't have the pieces, I just have all of the .PDF manuals that are available on their website.

I want to build a trade show display. Let me describe first what I'll settle for, and then exactly what I want. Two roughly 1' long pieces to serve as feet, 9' apart. In the middle of these, two poles going up 9'. Connecting the poles are two different 9'long pieces, one 6" off the ground, the other 8.5' off the ground. I will then design a banner and get the company printing the banner on vinyl fabric to sew a loop on the top and bottom so that the banner will slide through the connecting pieces to hang. All of this must collapse into something that is checkable on an airline.

Now, what I'd like ideally (but it seems I can't have) is something almost just like this, but instead of this being a fram for one 8' X 9' banner, this being a frame for one 3' X 9' banner in the middle, and then two additional banners on each side of that, also 3' X 9' coming out at you at roughly 45 degrees (each forming a 125 degree angle with the middle banner).

I called the place and talked to a guy, and he said that it looks like what I'm looking for are things all in their "Fractional Catalog" so at least I have narrowed my search to one of their four catalogues. And I wanted it to be 1" X 1" and then varying lengths. But if I go that route, my ideal choice is seemingly out, because there are no joints for the 10 series (1" X 1") that are not either 180 or 90 degrees. I want 120 degrees. So there is another option, that's the (1" X 1.5" series) 15 series. But having non-symmetrical stuff for planning is making my head hurt a little bit. And there are pages and pages of this catalog to go through.

Anybody know anything about this stuff?

[Edit]: After further examination, it looks like if I go with Metric I can have what I want and get the angles I want too (I don't care about the difference between 1" X 1" and 2cm X 2cm).

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Journal: Well, they've finally done it... 3

Journal by Liora

My fearless leader and his even more fearless wife have gone off to another state to lead people there. Yes, I'm talking about a church plant. They're in Minneapolis, and three others of their team are there already. There will be a total of 12 young adults there as part of the team when the summer is over.

What are they going to do? Well... they're going to plant a church. Not to take people away from other churches, but to reach out to people who don't seem to fit in the other churches, who don't feel comfortable there, or who don't have quite the same beliefs, or who have been hurt and have need of healing, or some other reason I can't think of right now.

I miss them already, and they haven't even been gone a month yet. Yes, this is the same pastor that got on my nerves, who made statements I disagreed with vehemently, only to change his mind months later and never offer an apology. Yes, the same one. But that's just him. He's a hardheaded jerk, but I like him anyway. Probably because his wife is really awesome, and they're a package deal.

We had a leadership meeting last night, and while I do like the new leader and his wife, it's just not the same. The leadership style is different, they're more prone to the authoritarian rather than the authoritative, and I can't look up to him to be mentored the way I could with the old guy. Yeah, I just called him a jerk a paragraph ago, but he at least I knew was earnestly seeking after truth, and I knew he had been at it longer and thus knew a lot more about it than me in a lot of areas. This new guy well... doesn't know as much. I know he's trying to learn too, but rather than being a couple of years ahead of me, he's a couple of years behind me. Alas, I shall get used to them, and they are really neat, and I know that God is doing good stuff with them and that God wants them leading the ministry, but I still have my complaints. Such is life.

Anyway, if any of you are in the Minneapolis area and are looking for a weekly group to meet in and talk about your faith, reply to this thread and I'll tell you more about it. No, they don't have a church service yet. They're just starting - in fact, they may not have a weekly group yet, but I'm sure one will form in the next few weeks. If you do go, however, keep in mind that I'm going to be really jealous because you get to see them regularly and I don't. Doggonit... now I'm tearing up a bit.

User Journal

Journal: Last Saturday... 11

Journal by Liora

... I have delayed writing this entry about last Saturday until after small group yesterday, when someone mentioned in this journal got to tell everyone the good news herself ...

Last Saturday was Alpha's Holy Spirit Day. It was amazing. Before I give a synopsis of what happened, I'll take some time to acquaint readers with what Alpha is and what Holy Spirit Day is about.

Alpha is a class taught at my church for non-Christians, new Christians, and people just seeking more knowlege about what Christians believe. It is a held once a week, for 10 weeks, and then there is one all day event sometime in the middle, called Holy Spirit Day. At Alpha, participants are served a yummy home-cooked meal, given a chance to make friends and chat with other participants and leaders, a 45 minute lecture, and an hour-long discussion section during which students discuss what they felt and taught about the teaching in a laid back setting. There are no wrong answers. There are no wrong opinions. There are no put-downs and no dumb questions. There is just time to sort through thoughts, ask questions, and bounce ideas about Christianity off the leaders and fellow participants.

The amazing thing about this completely non-confrontational, non-judgemental course, that just lays down the foundations of Christian belief and lets people discuss and accept or reject them at will is that thousands of people have become disciples of Christ through it at my home church alone (much less the hundreds of other churches around the world that are doing the same thing); Christians who later mature into functioning members of the Church. How can this be that people are attending a class where they are allowed to say whatever they want, and yet are willingly devoting themselves to Christ?

Well... the answer lies in community. Christian community is the most powerful evangelistic tool that I've ever heard of, whether used in Alpha, small groups, or just friendships. The people who attend Alpha are listened to, loved, prayed for, accepted no matter what place in life they are in, and eventually they come to respect the leaders and their opinions about the truths they are able to speak into their lives not as anonymous finger-pointers, but as loving mentors to them. At the very least, most of the participants are willing to let us pray for/with them.

Sometimes this happens early on in the course for an individual or two, but for most it happens on Holy Spirit Day, a day-long session with three hour long lectures, one mid-sized group discussion section, and one small group discussion section, along with several hours of fellowship through hiking, singing, volleyball, talking, eating, and general kindness. It doesn't happen for all participants, and those participants are still loved and cared for, sometimes to become Christians a few weeks, months, or years later, perhaps in a subsequent session of Alpha, perhaps in Chistian Community found somewhere else. That's ok. They weren't ready. A few people probably don't become Christians at all, but that number is so small I don't have accurate statistics on them.

So last Saturday was Holy Spirit Day for the session I am currently leading a discussion section for. It was a smaller group than previous sessions, around 80 attendees instead of 120, but still good. Of the 80 attendees, probably 40 were non-Christians, 20 were Christians looking to learn more and re-dedicate their lives, and another 20 were leaders and helpers. Probably 30 of the non-Christians became Christians. Almost all 20 of the Christians re-dedicated their lives. Almost everyone received prayer and were given experiential insight into the walk of Christianity. When people were prayed for, amazing things happened. One of the most adamantly anti-Christian males was struck by the power of the Holy Spirit when he was prayed for, he fell over, was speaking in tongues and acting wobbling as if drunk, and became a Christian on the spot. I was amazed.

A Chinese woman who has been attending my small group became a Christian. I am very excited about this because she has been searching and seekng out God very passionately since she met a girl who works at my office and also happens to go to my church. I don't even think that she knew that people sometimes have visions by the Holy Spirit, but when we were done praying for her (she just sat there peacefully while we prayed for God to bless her) she said she'd had a vision of Jesus on the cross with blood on his face, neck, and chest. That amazed me - the Real McCoy - because I know she didn't know that sometimes happens to people when God shows up. (I know that I should just get over it, but sometimes I have doubts, that the people are making things up, mass hysteria style, so my level-headed logical Chinese speaking electrical engineer friend's vision was a big confirmation to me that the things I see on HSD are genuine. Everyone has doubts, I know, it's just good to have mine on that subject put to rest.)

And that's all there was to it. We just pray for the Lord to bless the people we pray for on Holy Spirit Day, and every time, the Holy Spirit shows up and turns the place upside down. We leaders certainly don't do it - our church follows the teaching of the Apostle Paul very closely, and we do not practice public tongues because it isn't edifying to the Church Body. We did warn them about a few of the things that happen when the Holy Spirit touches people (can you imagine how scared people would be if they weren't told and then we started praying for them, and all of that stuff happened - warning them is important), but people having visions wasn't even something that was mentioned. It's just God showing up and touching those people - something that we spend a great deal of time praying that He will do in the weeks leading up to HSD. (Does that mean that the people should try to stop themselves if they're just getting prayed for to become Christians and they start speaking in tongues? I don't know for sure. I say no, because that's something that God is genuinely giving them at that time, but I think it's something they should be careful about for the future. I'm sure there are those who would disagree with me.)

So anyway, I'm really happy because I got to see a bunch of people blessed, and because a good friend of mine became a Christian, and I was there to see it, another woman in my small group was miraculously healed of something that's been plaguing her for over a year, and because God is good. Any of you that have the opportunity to take the Alpha course at one of the many other churches in the world offering it, definitely should. Holy Spirit Day especially, where God shows up mightily and through the feeling experience of Him puts to rest a lot of the logical thinking doubts that people have is worth it. (And it's good to know what it is that Christians actually believe, even if you don't end up believing yourself as a result of taking the course.)

User Journal

Journal: Huh... 9

Journal by Liora

Advanced Big 30 Personality Test Results
*Sociability ||||||||||||||||||||| 66%
*Gregariousness |||||||||||||||||||||||| 74%
*Assertiveness ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
*Activity Level ||||||||||||||||||||| 66%
*Excitement-Seeking |||||||||||||||||| 54%
*Enthusiasm |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 86%
Extroversion ||||||||||||||||||||| 69%

*Trust ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
*Morality ||||||||||||||||||||| 62%
*Altruism |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 82%
*Cooperation |||||||||||| 38%
*Modesty ||||||||| 30%
*Sympathy |||||||||||||||||||||||| 78%
Friendliness |||||||||||||||||| 60%

*Self-Efficacy |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 86%
*Neatness |||||||||||||||||||||||| 78%
*Dutifulness ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
*Achievement |||||||||||||||||||||||||||| 82%
*Self-Discipline |||||||||||||||||||||||| 74%
*Cautiousness ||||||||||||||| 42%
Orderliness |||||||||||||||||||||||| 72%

*Anxiety |||||| 18%
*Anger |||||||||||||||||| 54%
*Depression ||||||||| 22%
*Self-Consciousness |||||||||||| 34%
*Impulsiveness ||||||||||||||| 50%
*Vulnerability ||| 10%
Emotional Stability ||||||||||||||||||||| 69%

*Imagination ||||||||||||||||||||| 66%
*Artistic Interests |||||||||||||||||||||||| 74%
*Emotionality ||||||||||||||||||||| 70%
*Adventurousness |||||||||||||||||||||||| 78%
*Intellect |||||||||||||||||||||||| 78%
*Liberalism |||||||||||| 34%
Openmindedness ||||||||||||||||||||| 66%

Hmm... that says a lot about me I guess. If you want to do your own, it is here. I'm putting this in the "Plain Old Text" option, so if the link doesn't work, let me know.

User Journal

Journal: Wasting way too much time at work.... 1

Journal by Liora

Fascinating conversation via IM with coworker:

[Liora]: How are you?
[Liora's Friend]: hey [Liora]!
[Liora's Friend]: Fine thanks, and you?
[Liora]: good.
[Liora]: Having fun in warm, sunny, Mexico?
[Liora]: It's cold here....
[Liora's Friend]: yeah, yesterday the sun was hot
[Liora]: wow. sounds wonderful.
[Liora's Friend]: i was sleeping in the cab I took, because it was so warm
[Liora]: you took a cab?
[Liora's Friend]: yes, I went to show [Our Company's Software] to a professor of my old school
[Liora]: cool
[Liora]: So people take cabs in Mexico City?
[Liora's Friend]: and because I was carrying my laptop, it was better to take a taxi
[Liora]: safer?
[Liora's Friend]: yes, why do you ask that? :-) we also take cabs, haha
[Liora]: we don't really take cabs in [our town]
[Liora]: Do you actually live in the city?
[Liora's Friend]: oh, safe cabs... that's another matter
[Liora]: Where do you live?
[Liora]: Apartment, house, etc... nice neighborhood, ok neighborhood...?
[Liora's Friend]: in Mexico City... I have my office in the middle of the city
[Liora]: did you rent an office?
[Liora's Friend]: and my apartment is a little bit in the peripheria of the city
[Liora]: ahh...
[Liora]: so how do you get to work?
[Liora's Friend]: yes, I had to rent the office because I need a DSL internet service
[Liora's Friend]: and it's being implemented right now
[Liora]: Did the building you rented provide it?
[Liora's Friend]: I don't have a car here, so to got to work, I take two buses, and then the subway
[Liora's Friend]: but when I'm in rush, or I carry my laptop, I take cabs
[Liora]: whoa...
[Liora]: Does it take a long time?
[Liora's Friend]: one hour
[Liora]: whoa
[Liora's Friend]: but it's really a lot of time... withouth traffic and in a car, it would take 20 minutes
[Liora]: so did you just get to work a little bit ago?
[Liora's Friend]: yes
[Liora]: wow.
[Liora]: Do people in Mexico City really take siestas?
[Liora's Friend]: no, that's only lazy spaniards
[Liora]: oh
[Liora's Friend]: and fortunately, we didn't inherit that
[Liora]: everything I know about your culture is probably wrong....
[Liora]: Is there virtually no middle class - all either upper or lower?
[Liora's Friend]: there's actually a middle class... but it's small
[Liora]: oh
[Liora's Friend]: small, compared to the middle class in the US
[Liora]: yeah.. here virtually everyone in [our town] counts as middle class
[Liora's Friend]: actually. I just read a book, that probably culd interest you
[Liora]: what book?
[Liora's Friend]: it's called "Distant Neighbors" by Alan Riding
[Liora]: about US and Mexico?
[Liora's Friend]: It's a book that describes mexican culture, economy, and its relationships with the US
[Liora's Friend]: it's very interesting and nice to read
[Liora]: cool. I might order it.
[Liora's Friend]: the author is an english/american journalist that spent a lot of time here
[Liora]: ahh. Did you know that the Vineyard church movement has planted a lot of Vineyards in Mexico?
[Liora's Friend]: and although he has an american vision of things all the time, he's very objetive
[Liora]: Ellen has been to visit the one our church sponsors
[Liora's Friend]: yeah I knew that
[Liora]: It's very hard to be objective about things like culture
[Liora]: and worldview
[Liora]: at least I find that it is.
[Liora's Friend]: and in the book, he mentions that at one point in the 1930's the government allowed that american religions tcome to Mexico
[Liora's Friend]: in order to end the catholic monopoly in mexico
[Liora's Friend]: that always has had a lot of political power
[Liora]: At least for the Vineyard, being a church in Mexico is way different than being one in the US
[Liora]: It's a lot more outreach/service to the poor oriented
[Liora]: One of our churches is actually in a garbage dump
[Liora]: inside of it - these people live in it and scavage it and look for food in it and build shacks and stuff
[Liora's Friend]: yesterday, I was thinking about the differences in how mexicans and americans perceive religion
[Liora's Friend]: wow
[Liora]: what observations did you make?
[Liora]: Oh, about that Vineyard - our church spends 20% of its money on missions, and one of the things we do is feed the children in the dump
[Liora's Friend]: that's good
[Liora]: What did you come up with about Mexican's and American's perceptions about religion?
[Liora's Friend]: For mexicans, religion is a mixture of aztec beliefs (gods demanding sacrifice all the time) and catholic beliefs
[Liora's Friend]: so, for mexicans, religion is more an obligation, having fear of God most of the time
[Liora]: yeah. in Brazil, missionaries call something sort of similar (the Brazilian equivalent) Pagan Catholicism.
[Liora]: A lot of Americans also have that fear of God obligation thing going on
[Liora]: Usually they're Catholics or old-line denomination protestants
[Liora's Friend]: for Americans, it's more like an informal God, a God that laughs
[Liora]: Like Lutherans
[Liora]: yeah. I believe that God laughs.
[Liora]: The church in America is so fragmented that there's like a whole spectrum of attitudes. There's the stoic and somber German Lutheran church in the mid-west
[Liora's Friend]: I was thinking that for mexicans a God that allows laughing in church is sort of herecy (?), whereas for americans a God that demands sacrifice and respect is unthinkable
[Liora]: There's the California Casual Vineyard denomination.
[Liora]: Yeah. That's true of people in the Vineyard. But there's a whole series of totally devout Catholics (especially among the poor here) that have a similar problem with the Vineyard's theology - they would say that laughing in church is disrespectful.
[Liora]: The church that most of [our] Vineyard's pastors came from was VERY formal - no laughing, no smiling, women weren't even allowed to talk.
[Liora's Friend]: Maybe, but I also went to the Catholic church
[Liora's Friend]: and I was surprise of finding no connection with the catholic church in Mexico
[Liora]: This town is a pretty educated town, so I think that probably even bleeds into the Catholic church here.
[Liora]: Did you go to a contemporary service?
[Liora's Friend]: The priest there was joking there!!
[Liora's Friend]: I have no idea... There's no different services in catholic churches
[Liora]: Or did you go to a traditional one? Joking priest - sounds like a contemporary service. Catholics here have traditional Latin masses here too.
[Liora]: Serious affairs, they are.
[Liora]: With lots of standing and sitting and reciting things in Latin and standing and sitting.
[Liora's Friend]: but then it's the only country where catholic churches have contemporary services
[Liora]: well... Canada, but I'm not sure that counts.
[Liora's Friend]: Canada is very similar in culture to the US
[Liora]: Yeah.
[Liora]: Have you ever heard of Vatican II?
[Liora's Friend]: but I was with a Polish friend, and she was also very surprised of the priest joking
[Liora's Friend]: Vatican II???
[Liora's Friend]: no, I haven't heard about it
[Liora]: That's like a few years back, when the Catholic church decided they weren't relevantly reaching the culture anymore
[Liora]: So the Pope declared that churches can do what they want to reach people
[Liora]: and can even have different types of worship services
[Liora]: See, I think that the Pope believes in a God that laughs.
[Liora's Friend]: That's what I thought... Religion in the end mirror sthe relationships of the society
[Liora]: But I think the message of a loving forgiving God doesn't reach the population much anywhere.
[Liora]: so in the US the freedom to develop a contemporary service helped
[Liora]: I'm not sure it would help any in Mexico or any other culture, really....
[Liora's Friend]: Yeah, because relationships in Mexico are different
[Liora]: I think there they just need loving Christians (Especially loving Catholics) to help them out.
[Liora]: But let me ask you - would people still come to church in Mexico if they played mariachi at mass?
[Liora's Friend]: No, I don't think so
[Liora's Friend]: mariachi is to have fun... religion is to regret your sins
[Liora]: I think there they want to keep attendance up so bad that they don't want to accurately communicate the relevant information to people - sobriety is all good and well, but it doesn't really help people much.
[Liora]: Which I guess is a pretty serious decision to make - I wouldn't want to have to do it - good thing I'm not a bishop.
[Liora's Friend]: yeah...
[Liora]: Nah - religion isn't about regretting your sins. There's a place for it, but that's not what it's about. If you read the Bible, Jesus only talked a little about sins, and mostly talked about how you should act - loving and helping and healing people.
[Liora]: churches that turn a minor point into the major focus I think are missing the point completely - but that's just my opinion.
[Liora's Friend]: that's the way it is here... and that's the way it has been in Europe for a long time (and probably still is)... I don't believe in that anyway
[Liora's Friend]: Look. I'm not a catholic anymore... I dont like church here... but in the US, I felt like in a show
[Liora's Friend]: and I didn't like that
[Liora's Friend]: either
[Liora]: brb
[Liora's Friend]: but that's only my opinion too
[Liora]: For a long time I felt like the 703 service was the [Pastor's Name] Show.
[Liora]: But then other people were more involved ([The pastor] got over his need to run everything), and I got over that feeling
[Liora]: But it's still sort of less like a sober service than a rock concert.
[Liora]: I've never been able to resolve a happy medium - either in real life at another church, or in my head.
[Liora's Friend]: :-)
[Liora]: The German Lutherans do about as good a job as there is I guess - they're all somber until the pastor says something funny, and then they laugh, but then when the laughing's done, it's right back to sobriety for them.
[Liora]: But it's sort of countered by the number of potlucks they have (every family brings a dish and they all share) after their services - lots of smiling and happiness and little kids running around to lighten everyone up
[Liora]: something about eating together makes for happy fellowship I guess.
[Liora's Friend]: I'm telling you, at the end religion is part of the culture, and then it mirrors the way people interact
[Liora's Friend]: Mexicans are sober in their relationships with people
[Liora]: Well, that might be true, but I'm not sure it's bad. (Mexicans are sober in their relationships with people?!? I was expecting them to be a little like the South Americans I know and love - happy, smiling, do anything they can to help sorts of people.)
[Liora]: Our church's main value is "To Extend the Truth, Love, and Power of Jesus Christ in a relevant way to today's society" or something like that.
[Liora's Friend]: We're fun when we're in parties... but in normal life, we are serious... Mexican society is a hierarchical one
[Liora]: Hmm... I never thought of it like that.
[Liora]: Yeah, we Americans are pretty informal - look at me, I'm wearing blue jeans today at work....
[Liora's Friend]: we are fun and similing, but mostly with people we know, and we have confidence in... but not with everybody, especially if we don't know them
[Liora]: Hmm. I think I smile and talk to just about anyone - it doesn't matter if I know them or not.
[Liora's Friend]: yeah, here I wear jeans and they call me "young man", but if I wear a suit, they call me "sir"
[Liora]: Here's a funny thought - I wonder if my personality type is more rare in Mexico because of that - society frowning upon people like me.
[Liora's Friend]: here you smile a guy you don't know, he will think you have a crush on him
[Liora]: eek. that's no good at all.
[Liora's Friend]: or something like that
[Liora's Friend]: once you know people here, then relationships are informal and fun (and mostly sincere)
[Liora]: Well, going back to what you were saying - I'm not sure that religion being culturally relevant is a negative thing at all.
[Liora's Friend]: in the US I never know if people like me or not, because all of them treat me well and smile to me
[Liora]: [Liora's Friend], everyone likes you, you dork.
[Liora's Friend]: no, I mean not in PW, but in parties, at the stores, with people I don't know
[Liora]: They do.
[Liora]: They may not want to become your next best friend, but they like talking to you.
[Liora]: You're an introvert, right?
[Liora's Friend]: when people here ask me about racial discrimination, I can't say anything for personal epxerience, because everybody everywhere treated me well
[Liora]: Then you were never discriminated against.
[Liora]: If you were, you'd know it.
[Liora]: People here are indeed capable of being rude.
[Liora's Friend]: I know
[Liora]: I can't even count the number of times I've been referred to as a "White haired bitch."
[Liora's Friend]: then I guess I was lucky, because I didn't have that kind of experience
[Liora's Friend]: never never in 3 years in the US
[Liora's Friend]: And I'm an introvert, yes, but it's also relationships here with people are different
[Liora]: Education breeds tolerance. Christianity breeds tolerance. In some ways, financial security breeds tolerance. What you have here in [our town] is a largely educated, Christian, middle class culture. Very very tolerant.
[Liora's Friend]: that's very true
[Liora]: If you'd gone to high school here it might have been different - there you would deal with people of all educational, financial, and cultural stratii.
[Liora]: Or if you had been in a different city.
[Liora's Friend]: yeah,that's true... I don't have broad references to distinguish social relationships in the US
[Liora's Friend]: the only reference I have is [our town]
[Liora]: well, even within [our town], if you had lived in certain neighborhoods, or met certain people, you would have had a broader social segment to consider.
[Liora]: In your volunteer work, were you mostly working with Mexican kids?
[Liora's Friend]: yeah
[Liora]: Because you were volunteering, I doubt they would have said anything, but if you had been with other kinds of kids, you would have noticed something for sure.
[Liora]: lower incomes tend to produce more people with definitive prejudices.
[Liora]: it's sad to say, but it's true.
[Liora]: But, if you get to the very very low end of the income spectrum, you find tolerance again.
[Liora]: America is made up of very odd people.
[Liora's Friend]: Yeah, and in any case I guess they would consider me as part of their social stratii
[Liora]: They did, I'm sure.
[Liora]: Well, I've got a ton of work to do.
[Liora]: I finally got the [something I needed for work], so now I have to [work on it]
[Liora]: This has been a very enlightening conversation.
[Liora's Friend]: ok... it was nice to talk to you... talk to you later
[Liora]: Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
[Liora]: later. Have fun today. don't work too hard.
[Liora's Friend]: thanks to you too

User Journal

Journal: Dentists, Doctors, Insurance, Leadership, and Theology 12

Journal by Liora

This is going to be one of those sort of rambling JE's, because I'm putting things down just as I'm thinking about them, which will likely yield a less than cohesive set of thoughts.

I went to the dentist this morning. My teeth and gums were pretty much perfect to begin with, and the hygeinist did a good job, so they're even cleaner and polished and swell. They did bite wing X-rays, which revealed I have a cavity between two of the back teeth. So I get to go back on Monday for them to take care of it.

I went to the doctor last week. I have been having problems with a lot of fluid in my throat and lungs, which collects in the night and wakes me up because I can't breathe and need to sit up in bed and cough for a while. They told me I have bronchitis of the trachea, and they gave me an antibiotic, which I am taking, and which appears to be helping. Nothing's perfect yet, but I'm not waking up at night anymore.

Last week Shimmin and I went to my insurance guy to get his car insurance transferred over to all one thing, and we made an appointment for Thursday to have an insurance checkup. This will be where Tom (my insurance guy) looks at us and our finances and our lives and our ages and the health/life/liability insurance policies that we already have, and asks us questions about our futures, where we want to be, what we want to do, how we want to plan our lives, and then makes suggestions about how much life insurance we need to acquire, if any (well, we know we need to get Shimmin some), etc. And so we have that to look forward to, especially that while I am a fairly risk-averse person, I truly dislike spending too much money on warding against potential disasters, etc.

So... all of these things have got me thinking. I went to the dentist for a checkup. Why do I go for checkups? Because it is good to get one's teeth cleaned and looked at, and if I do have any cavities, they are caught and taken care of before I ever even know about them and never feel pain as a result of them. But yet, I don't go to the doctor for physicals. I go when I'm sick, and hope that if there's anything wrong with me that I don't already know about, they'll catch it via the few vital signs tests the nurse takes at the beginning. Also, although I've never been to an insurance/financial checkup before, I figure they are probably good to do occasionally, not necessarily so I can do all the stuff the guy recommends, but so that I can at least think about it, and it at least gets the ball going in my head for planning about my future. In general, checkups are a good idea. Tuneups are good for the car, oil changes are good more frequently than that, etc. Planning is a good thing.

I am beginning my final semester of the advanced leadership training program at church. During the past 1.5 years I've been able to wander through various jobs and service requirements at church to see what it is that I like, what it is that the church needs, and what it is that I am good at. I've also acquired more permanent responsibilities than I previously had; the service requirements are temporary, but sometimes you find that doing something isn't that much trouble, or is something you like, or both, and you hold on to it. When I started I was teaching the 3's every other Sunday during the 10:00 service, leading a small group, and singing with the worship team every third week or so at the young adult service. Now I am still doing all of that, and I am also helping greet guests after the service in a little nook we call the guest cafe, making them feel welcome, introducing them to the pastors, and telling them a little bit about our church. I also lead a corporate prayer/worship event for the young adults on the first Friday of every month.

I've had the opportunity to hand out bulletins, teach kindergarteners, pray for people taking the Learning to Minister Like Jesus class, cook food for 150 people, make coffee for more, volunteer at various local mission agencies, lead discussion groups for adult classes, raise up new interns in a small group and hand it over to them as leaders, change oil for single moms/widows, lead a discussion group for Christians and non-Christians in a local bar, pray for people after services, and all kinds of other stuff that I can't even remember.

So here's what I want to know: Where's the checkup? Where's the time when I sit down with a leader and figure out where I am, what I've been doing, what I'm good at, what my goals are, etc? I mean, you don't go through a degree program without some type of course or career counselling, you don't go for years without going to the dentist, and yet we seem to be missing the point spiritually, the same way that we don't get the memo on how to take care of ourselves by eating not to many calories, exercising regularly, and not smoking? I feel lost, like there's something I'm missing. This class is gonna end in May, and I'm going to have done a lot of service, have figured out a lot of things about myself, have completed the equivalent of spiritual basic training, and yet have no marching orders.

We want to plant a church. We don't know where, we don't know with whom. We know that it is likely going to happen when Shimmin finishes his PhD. I need skills before then. I need to learn SO MUCH. I need public speaking skills, skills teaching adults, not just 3 year olds, writing skills, reading skills. I need to learn things about Christian counselling, how to lead larger groups of adults than are just in our small group, how to build a leadership team, etc. I guess i'm just needy, because I could go on forever.

I'm so confused. Here's what I do know. There are people that I'm discipling that probably need this kind of guidance as much as I do, and I've already been where they are, so I know what their options are, and where they can get training, and how they can experiment and figure out how they're gifted to serve. I'm going to go to the insurance checkup on Thursday and pay very close attention to how Tom does it, and learn what goes into that kind of planning, how to stimulate thoughtful and insightful responses from the people you're dealing with, and figure it all out, and then figure out how to apply that stuff to the people that Shimmin and I are working with. Even if we can't get that kind of help, we have an obligation to lead the people we're already leading through it. Minus the method for selling life insurance, that is.

User Journal

Journal: Still more introspection 7

Journal by Liora

You know, C.S. Lewis says that as we live our lives out, we are moving in one of two directions. Either we are becoming better people, or we're becoming worse people. Sure, stagnation can happen for a little bit, on the short term, but if you integrate with respect to character from zero to infinity, the trend either goes toward the good or toward the bad.

I agree with him. And, I find myself confronted with the reality on a regular basis that it appears that I am becoming more of a witch every day, instead of some other, more pleasant alternative. I feel like I become more jealous, more bitter, more self-serving, more stubborn and willful, and less godly regularly. Look at my JE from yesterday. It was just an honest assessment of my thoughts from the day before, and if you look at them not even very closely, you realize that I'm an absolute monster.

I know everyone has less than stellar moments and emotions, and perhaps I AM becoming a better person because I'm starting to recognize them, and share them with people, and confront them, and trying to change them, but it doesn't seem that way. If I look at myself as an onion, the more layers I peel off, the more rotten it seems that I am as I get deeper and deeper.

I also know that when you get married, that's about as close as you'll ever be to someone - that's as transparent as you ever get to another human being, and I shudder to think that this is the person that Shimmin knows. It is a darn good thing he loves me, because if I were him, I certainly wouldn't like me.

User Journal

Journal: My Weekend, or How to Be Really Sleepy on Monday....

Journal by Liora

Friday I spent most of the day at work desperately trying to get things done despite the fact I was entirely too distracted and excited like a little kid about the Christmas party that Shimmin and I were throwing that evening. I seriously felt like a little kid on Christmas Eve. The party was great, we had a keg and homemade egg nog (with and without alcohol options were available) that I stayed up making Thursday night, and people shouted Christmas carols obnoxiously to our impromptu (and not terribly melodious) accompaniament of guitar and djembe. But every one had fun.

Saturday morning I got up and helped at a local outreach's Santa's workshop, where I got to help poor kids find presents for their parents and grandparents for free from the tables and tables of donations available. The kids had fun, I think, and I got to help bless them with gloves and socks and mittens, and gifts to give their parents. That afternoon I had lunch with some friends, ran some errands, and then packed for Chicago. We drove there, and once there went to a Christmas party with a bunch of Shimmin's friends from when he was an undergrad. Great party. Got checked into the hotel room and to sleep around two in the morning.

Sunday we woke up and drove home, saw RotK at the theater (went straight to the theaters from the interstate, didn't even stop at the house), Shimmin drove me to church for worship team practice, we practiced, and then after the service we went to a local pub for some much needed food and beer. We got to bed around 11:00, and then proceeded to toss and turn all night. I can think of four separate times when we were both simultaneously awake and unable to get comfortable and fall asleep.

It was a great weekend, but today I am groggy and groggy and groggy. And I don't have a great deal of hope for a nap today, unless as I am suspecting may happen, I simply fall asleep here at my computer. Later I have to pick Shimmin up from the lab, go shopping for last minute Christmas presents, arrive at his parents house with the presents wrapped, and then spend the evening with his parents and his sister and her husband. This will be fun, but also probably grueling if I still feel then as I do now.

Anyway... random thoughts. Shimmin's undergrad friends are lovely people, who are great fun to talk to. I got to listen to them banter about the lack of a "coming-of-age" ceremony in our culture, and how people don't really learn how to be adults anymore in America, and that was good. Eagle Scouts and Bar Mitzvahs came up in the discussion, but despite these few cultural occurances, they don't really count for a great deal. Thirteen year olds (I was surprised to learn that there are 13 year Eagle Scouts!) aren't adults yet in this day and age, and that's about all there is to it. I got to put in my big two cents about how we're the most educated and privileged people in the world, so it's our job to make sure that people get the skills and training they need to grow up on a local, person to person level, and someone said that it was pretty pretentious of me to state that I knew what was best for the rest of the uneducated world. I didn't have to answer that, because someone else asked her if the uneducated world was more qualified to make that decision or something like that. Anyway, good discussion. Glad I listened more than spoke, because I'd have opened my mouth up more about how kids should (and do) learn that stuff at church, if their church is a good one, and I'd like to get to know them all before I start mentioning my faith too much.

Had a tough time at worship practice. Seems that someone who plays piano and sings is being trained as a worship leader, and was touted to have some special "[that person's name] blessing," so whatever they were singing was obviously the right thing to sing. I got really frustrated and almost told them that I might as well leave** because I wasn't going to be a productive member of the team because that person couldn't stay on a consistent harmony (and indeed came out with some pretty off-key stuff at a few moments), and therefore I couldn't make a counter-harmony up and even if I did, she'd just jump to it and then we'd be singin in unison. She'd be singing a third below the melody, so I'd start singing a fifth below it. She'd jump to a fifth below it, and then the worship leader would stop us and tell us it was too heavy and tell ME to find a different harmony, or not sing and just fill in or something, which for the next take I would do and she would jump to it AGAIN.

She even did it during the service on a song that the leader had explicitly defined parts for, taking my part. The whole thing just made me remember all of the reasons why I had quit singing on worship team a few months ago in the first place, and it really sucked. I ended up just not singing on two songs because I got so irritated, and when I did sing, I was so frustrated and doubtful of myself that I just sucked. After all, what if I was just imagining it and it was ME who couldn't stick to a harmony? But upon further analysis later last night, it wasn't. So now I'm thinking about this, and I'm thinking "and they want her to be a worship leader?" And the worst part is that she's a great girl, has a charming personality, has an absolutely amazing voice, is a great keyboard player, is eager to please people, and is willing to put time and energy into practicing, but I don't really think that that will be enough for her to be able to lead a team. I don't want to tell the leaders that though because she's so nice; it'd be really heart-breaking to have to tell her something like that. It'll be sad if the leaders ever do figure that out. Maybe something will happen and she'll suddenly be able to do that. Or maybe, when she's a worship leader, she'll be able to sing melody (which she can hold just fine) and will have a set of totally talented backup singers that will be able to cut harmony themselves and she won't have to lead them.

I was thinking about Christ during communion and the sermon. I actually didn't listen to much of the sermon at all. I was on the worship team, so we all took communion together before the service because we'd be onstage during the service, and that's when I started thinking. I was instead thinking about Jesus being our sacrifice. Having just seen RotK probably had a lot to do with my thinking. Jesus is like the perfect king, who so loves his subjects, he fights right alongside them, and even takes blows for them. The appreciation of communion as Jesus' body and blood doesn't make a lot of sense to me from the standpoint of looking up at him on the cross, me on the ground. Instead, it makes more sense if I walk around behind the cross, with Jesus as the shield wall, in front of me, and us advancing through enemy territory. He's not there in front of me because I deserve for him to be, or even because I'm smart enough to want him to be. He's there on the battlefield with me because he wants to be. And that's the part that just blows my mind.

Oh well. Too many thoughts. Not enough sleep. Work to do.

**I've actually left worship team practice before, but for a different reason. That had to do with my own struggling with being helpful and submitting and the like. I used to have nothing to do with worship team. My favorite thing in the world to do though is to sing, and I suppose I'm pretty good at it. So I was asked to come a few times and sing at worship team. Then they found out I knew how to play piano, and asked if I could play piano and sing. Then, a little later, they started putting these people on worship team that can carry a melody I suppose, but are not great singers. And then they had all these singers on worship team and asked if I would just play piano so they didn't have so many singers. Now, I've been in the church when these people have sung, and they don't sing out at all, and you can't hear them, and the techs (probably on orders) don't turn their mics up much in the house and just turn their monitors up really loud. So then it's just the worship leader singing. So I got a little upset, and I let people know that I don't like playing keys enough to just do it, and so they put me on the schedule as doing both, and then on repeated Sundays via telephone or in person after I got to practice either asked me if I could just switch out and not play at all or if I could just play keys. One week I just got so mad about being asked to just play keys or maybe it was djembe, I really don't remember, (when there were even more bad singers than usual set up to sing) that I just gave up and realized my heart wasn't in worship anyway, and I didn't have any business being on stage, so I just quit, and told the worship leader that I was having some heart and motive troubles on worship team, and I didn't want to be scheduled for a while. I've since gotten over it, or so I thought, but my thoughts that I am not willing to stand up there and just raise my hands and look like a fool because I'm standing in front of a mic but I'm not singing because the other backup singer is hard to sing with have actually made me rethink my thoughts on that. Thank goodness for ALPHA being on Sunday nights again in the spring, so I'll have an excuse to not sing on worship team for another three month stretch and maybe get over this (or perhaps in which time maybe the girl will become a worship leader and one of those amazing positive outcomes I listed above will happen).

User Journal

Journal: Long-awaited update 10

Journal by Liora

Well, for starters, I really love being married to Shimmin. It's great. It happened 17 days ago, and it still seems a little bit like a dream. I remember the rehearsal that morning, and being a little scared and tired and some other stuff, and I remember not being hungry for breakfast, and I remember getting dressed with my best friends. I remember putting my makeup on and having Laila do touchups, and then having to put a plastic bag over my head for about 10 seconds while they pulled my dress over my head so as to not get makeup on it. That was funny. I remember the wedding coordinator showing up at the door and saying that my dad and my grandma were there to see me. And I was all dressed, and they said I was beautiful. And I was ok then and not crying. And then I remember the wedding coordinator ushering my mom and my aunt in, and my mom took one look at me and started crying, and they just kept saying over and over that I was beautiful (this seems to be a trend...), and then I started crying a little, and I told my bridesmaids that they should probably all stuff a little tissue under their bra straps for me in case I needed them. And I remember waiting in the queue with my dad and crying and getting makeup on the handkerchief that Shimmin's grandma made when she was a little girl and that she gave to me to carry.

And then I remember walking. And my dad placing my hand in Shimmin's. And I remember holding his hand as Heidkamp said some words and I remember thinking "Oh my goodness this is real!" It was good. And then I remember Heidkamp's sermon thing said that we needed tons of mercy for each other and stuff and it was great, and he was swell. And then I remember Shimmin and I both fighting not to laugh as we said our vows - we were so happy. We weren't crying at all. And then we exchanged rings and I think I had a few tears there, but not many. And then, the funny part. We went up on the stage as my brother played Jesus be the Center and we lit the unity candle and we had neglected to purchase dripless candles, so we each burned ourselves on the hot wax. We sort of looked at each other and gritted our teeth and then just did it anyway, and blew out our own candles. Yes, marriage can be pain. I have experienced it firsthand.

And then he pronounced us Mr. & Mrs. Shimmin, and we went down the aisle and had a moment to ourselves where Shimmin put my engagement ring that had been on my right hand for the ceremony over the wedding ring on my left hand. And then we hugged and cried and then at some point the ushers started dismissing our friends and family, and they came through and we both cried the whole time. I couldn't introduce Shimmin to anyone, and he couldn't introduce me to anyone through all the tears, but that was ok, and we cried and all the people who thought to introduced themselves to us anyway - there were all kinds of family members that we each had present that the other one didn't know.

And then pictures. And then cake. And then we finally got to eat something, although I still wasn't hungry. And then we tossed the bouquet and garter, and then we got into his nicely decorated car which we drove to my house and conveniently got into my car which we hadn't brought for that reason, and drove away to our honeymoon.

Fast forward 17 days, we are in my house, his things aren't quite put away, but all of the rooms of the house are in good order except the spare bedroom, where his things and the wedding miscellanea are piled, and we hope to make more headway on that tonight. All of the thank you notes are sent, all of the gifts are put away. Gifts that are meant to hang on the walls will be hung tonight (lots of cast iron hanging candle-holders and candles, and some pictures and picture frames). We are happy. Being married is way better than I thought it would be, and I thought it would be pretty darn good.

So far we're mostly remembering to pray together every single morning before we get up (even if we forget we do it later) and we're driving in to work together. My body rebelled a week ago Friday because he was packing me lunches that were just a little TOO healthy (my mouth got tired of chewing when he gave me carrot sticks and apple slices in the same lunch), but he's since figured out the right balance, and we're doing swell, and so far the household duties have mostly been shared. Which is just fine with us.

Anyway, for those of you that are considering trying it, if you get the right person, being married is GREAT.

If what they've been doing hasn't solved the problem, tell them to do something else. -- Gerald Weinberg, "The Secrets of Consulting"

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