Sunday, May 28, 2017

Happy Birthday Paperless Post

A really fun aspect of writing blogs is that random companies fairly regularly contact me and ask me to try their products. I am very selective about what offers I'll except. The products have to really fit my niches of Christian living (companies like Dayspring, or books I want to read, or the online college Biblical languages program I told you about this week), or things specific to stroke therapy or adaptation.

I say "no," to more offers than I accept, then even if I accept, you won't find the item posted here unless I have some real positives to share. When I feel it is a product I want to share with my readers, you get my honest opinion, the good and the bad.

When Paperless Post contacted me earlier this month, I was intrigued. I don't easily send postal cards because the addressing, stamping, and mailing process takes a lot of organizational skill that I'm still working to recover since the strokes. With Paperless Post, email addresses are collected once, then the entire process is automated so that I can send out graduation party announcements (my first living baby will graduate high school in less than a week!), birthday cards, shower invites, wedding invitations, Christmas cards, invitations, or general "brighten your day" messages on a whim.

This is the actual "envelope" I selected, "paid" upgrade coins for. I just now realized that the plain one posted below is what actually got sent. This was visible when people clicked on their plain envelope and visited the Paperless Post website. The customer service is fantastic, and had I not waited until posting deadline to write this blog post, I'm sure I would have been happy with the assistance they offered in this area. Perhaps it is as simple as the need for email recipients to come directly to Paperless Post to access all the benefits of this service?

There are email options, both basic free ones and more elaborate paid ones, and even paper items to be ordered. I was credited "coins" to go in and play around with some of the fancy options to establish my opinions and receive feedback from my guinea pigs friends I tested cards on. I picked a handful on people I know well, some that I regularly interact with via email, and others I rarely exchange emails with at all. I sent them a message of, "I am trying out the Paperless Post service to review it on my blog. Fun! I picked a few friends to try it out with and when I saw this card was an option, it seemed perfect for you, my friend. :) If you can let me know what you think of this service, that will help me write my review. " All but my mom (who spent many years being "computer illiterate and proud of it" and has been dragged into the technological age kicking and screaming) opened their messages. (Love the tracking feature built in, so I know if anyone needs follow ups!)

Outside Envelope That Appears In Initial Email

I upgraded envelope "liners" (paperless, mind you) to butterflies and had fun with card messages, backgrounds, "postmarks", and more. This is what I came up with:

Card Front
One third of my test subjects had initial trouble opening/reading everything I had sent on their cards. As one friend said, "It was OK, but all I could see was my name." Once I replied to their questions, they all immediately figured it out and appreciated what I had sent. The replies I sent read like this,"Click on the button in the original post that says, "View The Card". That will take you to a website where you can see the card along with the front of the envelope by clicking on the image on the right and the opened envelope lining by clicking over to the left. If the card flips over too fast to read all of it, click directly on the card and it will flip back over."

Personalized Card Back I Created
Since this message sent directly via email, along with the simple outer envelope picture, this is where I would include my instructions for new users in the future.

Another friend took a while to reply, then said, "Cute card. I couldn't figure out how to respond at first--no box, just one line to write on."

Inside of Envelope With Upgraded Butterfly Liner :)

My favorite reply nearly wrote my review for me, though I unfortunately filed her message in "trash" instead of "blog." *sigh* The point is she LOVED this service and simply GUSHED over it. Now that I've learned a few tricks, what I did right and what I will do differently next time. I will certainly be using this service again! My advice is to initially try Paperless Post out with a very small test group, find out how things work, practice and reine, then use it for serious contacts!

Happy 8th birthday to this innovative company that is going to make one area of my life simpler. :)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Why I No Longer Practice Full Time Head Covering

Remember when I posted about headcovering a month ago?

There is still much I agree with in that post, all of my core points in fact.

There is also much I have changed my views on. Details about personal implementation. 

Nearly forty intensive hours of counseling, all packed into one week, can do that to a person, dramatically change some perspectives!

Profound movement of God, like I just experienced in the healing of my deafness, can make a girl re-evaluate opinions too.

So, I reiterate this point from my last post, "For those who already believe Jesus died and rose for you personally, have accepted Him as your Savior, I in no way wish you to feel I’m adding the weight of legalism. Christ died for your sins. No works are needed to finish His saving grace in your life! Jesus is enough!!! Just like neither baptism nor communion are requirements for salvation, rather God’s desired observances for his people who already know and love Him, I absolutely do not feel head covering to be a requirement for a Christian woman when it comes to the soundness of her faith in Jesus Christ as her saving and forgiving God of grace!"

I stand by my statement that, "I believe that Christian women [who] in the church [where] are called to cover [what] for prayer and prophesy [why]."

Where my views take a sharp turn away from my prior post concerns the how section of my prior post. Actually, all five of my thoughts listed under "how," other than my thoughts on staying fully covered at my children's school (a small part of point 5), are still valid. It is in personal application of those points that my view has radically changed.

Tonight. Outside my front door with an uncovered head!

I no longer feel compelled to practice full time head covering. Friends who have never seen my hair before are seeing it for the first time. This change in my practice of head covering in no way reflects abandonment of faith. In fact, my relationship with Jesus Christ is firmer than it has ever been!

On January 1, 2016, I posted this picture, saying, "My hair has grown a LOT, but [2015] was also the year, mid-year, when I decided that in addition to headcovering for spiritual reasons, I would also adopt the purely personal/cultural choice of no longer wearing my hair loose in public, saving it for my husband's viewing. Nothing to do with my faith, just a personal gift from me to him, so this as as "down" as you see it now:"

Sadly, as the months past, my personal "gift" did get totally entangled with my faith and views of head covering!
It is fascinating that I ended my last article with the statement, "I would simply caution against legalism. Whatever covering you are wearing should not become a source of piety, religious pride, a meaningless ritual, or covering for the sake of covering tradition rather than as a reflection of a heart seeking submission to God’s order of authority. Once the issue of if to cover gets settled in my spirit, my attitude behind the act of covering needs to be regularly taken before God in order to assure that my motives stay glorifying to Him!"

A legalistic attitude is exactly what I was developing. It took just a few questions from my counselor and another two questions from my husband, for me to realize I had developed a pharisaical spirit. I knew what I believed to be true, yet I had imposed further restrictions upon myself than God had ever asked of me. I was practicing false humility, feeling that if I concealed my glory (hair) full time, I was somehow bringing more glory to God.

This week.
I (butterfly top, to the right) am wearing a headband just because it is pretty (butterfly lace!) and wearing my hair down for the very first time these long time friends have ever seen it.

I was stunned to re-read my the bolded portion of my second "how" point/tip after I started thinking on the questions that were posed to me concerning motive. I wrote the words, but still wasn't getting the idea! "I don’t think God objects to cute or stylish head coverings, but simple would want us to be mindful of not detracting from Him, not trying to draw undo attention to ourselves. He loves us. He created us. He created beauty. He gave us hair for our glory. He isn’t trying to take anything from us, make us feel frumpy or self-conscious! It often takes some practice, time to explore our options, but if there’s a head-wear style that makes you feel beautiful but still focuses eyes (our own as well as the eyes of those around us) on Christ, when we find something we can wear with comfort and confidence in Jesus, that’s what we are looking for."

I feel I've been set free from a weighty burden. I still believe in and practice head covering for corporate worship, but that is joyful. When I stopped trying to add my extras to a simple instruction, my heart became so much lighter.

Want to read the story behind the story? Core Deep Lies will give you further background on this decision!

GIVEAWAY - Let's Start At The Very Beginning

Admit it. Strains of Do-Ray-Me from The Sound of Music are filling your mind right now. "When you read you begin with a, b, c..."

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

I'm not quite sure what I expected when I attended my first The Israel Institute of Biblical Studies (Formerly, an eTeacher Group Virtual School) Biblical Hebrew course, but what I discovered left me humming this tune. 

2012 (c) All Right Reserved
eTeacher Ltd.
8 Oholiav St. Ramat Gan, 52522
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Instead of a, b, c, our first lesson exposed us to just 4 letter (6 symbols) and explained how the Hebrew alphabet is comprised only of consonants. The nun (similar to the Latin (English) "n") and mem (sounds much like our "m') each have two symbols to represent their sounds, a regular form that is used anywhere in the beginning or middle of a word, and a sofit, or final, form used if it is the last letter in a word, a tip of the hat to the history of hand transcription without clear spacing, in order to know the definitive ending of words in strings of letters. Fascinating!

2012 (c) All Right Reserved
eTeacher Ltd.
8 Oholiav St. Ramat Gan, 52522
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

By week three, we were just beginning to learn about the small markings over, under, or next to consonants that act as vowels and direct how consonant sounds are pronounced.. While we started with the very basics, thus felt rather like returning to Kindergarten and my early "Dick and Jane" and "See Spot Run" readers, I felt respected as an intelligent adult, never talked down to.

2012 (c) All Right Reserved
eTeacher Ltd.
8 Oholiav St. Ramat Gan, 52522
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

When I had to miss a week of live, interactive classroom instruction (from my laptop), I was able to catch up before my next week's class, thanks to the recorded version available to me in my "online locker".  This feature, along with my printed textbook containing all the class slides and homework (not required, but you get out of the class only what you put into it, so worthwhile and helpful!), will come in very handy in catching up with my classmates who seem to be catching onto these concepts much faster than I am. I'm very thankful that I have easy access to reviewing each class session as often as needed!

Technical support, both during registration, and even if technical issues arise right during a class, has been stellar! On the few occasions any student has has sound issues or what have you, during class, the teacher will take 30 second and open a support ticket for technical support for her student, right there in class. The disruption in minimal, while the customer service response is immediate and fellow students quickly rejoin the class in progress. I'm signed up for both text and email reminders when my weekly class is about to start, so I never have to go looking for a class participation link, can log in right from my reminder email!

From  The Israel Institute of Biblical Studies website, "The Israel Institute of Bible Studies has partnered with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the leading academic institute in Israel and one of the leading biblical research institutes in the world with a long and proud history of scholarly excellence and leadership in biblical languages and studies. We aim to share this wealth of knowledge with people around the world through programs developed by our leading biblical scholars and education professionals, and through our many years of experience as the leading online institute of biblical studies. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem fully accredits all of our classical languages courses, so students can take courses for university credits that are acknowledged by universities around the world." College credit folks!

I was blessed to try this 9-month, beginner level course free-of-charge, in exchange for my honest review here on my blog. The only real negative I can say, is that I have not found course pricing readily available on the website. There is a simple form you can fill out to request more information, so that is my best guess on how to obtain pricing information.

However, if you are at all interested, please take a moment to enter this giveaway in which one winner (from all participating blogs) will be selected at the end of the giveaway! 

It is well worth entering since each contestant will receive a follow up email after they enter for $100 off a class, so even if you aren't "the" winner, everyone who enters wins a nice discount!

2012 (c) All Right Reserved
eTeacher Ltd.
8 Oholiav St. Ramat Gan, 52522
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

I'm not learning as quickly as I had hoped I would, but I'm so excited I took this opportunity to work on training my brain to learn something new. The process is rewarding and enjoyable. The convenience of at home learning at my own pace, and the caliber of education being offered, is unmatched. You'll want to pick a language and give this a try!