Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Thanksgiving Story: "See, I have told you ahead of time..."

"So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time." Mark 13:23 (NIV)

Have you ever gotten a really clear warning from the Holy Spirit?  Around Thanksgiving, I am always reminded of a warning I received, and the benefits of obedience.  Even when it means an inexplicable change in plans that leaves you very disappointed.

It was a week before Thanksgiving - November 16, 1989. Had we not obeyed, we would have missed a particularly spectacular instance of the Lord's protection and provision in our lives. In fact, we would have suffered serious loss.

It has been 21 years since we moved to Robbinsville. We love it here, and it has been a great place to raise our kids. But about five months earlier, as we were investigating possible locations to move, we were not thinking of Robbinsville, but Ewing. After all, we only had one car, and that was close to my husband's work. So my reasoning was that I could drive him to work and have the car during the day.  It was also near the West Trenton train station in case I wanted to go to Philadelphia, and not too far from Washington Crossing Park. And Robbinsville was out in the middle of nowhere.

We were living in West Windsor at the time - paying way too much rent, and wanting to get away from there into our own place. And my preliminary investigation took me to a new condo community a mile or two up the road from my husband's office called Heritage Crossing. We liked it right away - it was just right for our little family of three. We walked around the property and looked at several models, then were escorted to the shells of several buildings where those models would actually be built.  One of them was on the second floor of a building located all the way at the back of the property - beautiful wooded views from one side!  They estimated that this building would be completed in the fall.

A 2 bed, 2 full bath condo in Ewing, NJ (New Jersey). This is quite, simple community. All units come with a balcony and some over look a wooded area. This Beautiful, well maintained luxurious set of homes in Ewing, NJ is located in a very quiet area of the complex with great views from inside and out. Close to Trenton Country Club, West Trenton Train Station, D & R Canal State Park, Merrill Lynch, TCNJ, I-95 and Rt. 29

It was a more than we could afford, but we thought at least we could try. Real Estate prices were high in 1989, and there was a lot of "creative financing" going on for people like us who made less than $35,000 a year and had no savings to speak of.  We put down a binder of $1500 and brought home the prospectus to see what we were getting ourselves into.

I contacted the real estate company that was handling these condos and they referred me to a gentleman who assured me that we would be able to work something out. I had several great conversations with him, and true to his word, he arranged for a mortgage for us, taking into account good credit and a projected raise that my husband would be getting in the summer. It looked like there would be no problem being approved. We would be good to go, and able to move in as soon as the condo was ready. We were pretty excited!  It was our dream come true!

Now would probably be a good time to mention that we did not ask the Lord at all whether He wanted us to move to Ewing.

It was my habit to stand at the kitchen counter and do just about everything.  Talk on the phone, read, pay bills, pray. Whatever.  I had read through the prospectus once. This particular morning I had some breakfast and coffee, and I decided that while my daughter was having her afternoon nap I would read through it again.

When I picked up the prospectus, I began to feel vaguely uneasy. I thought I was having indigestion. I thought back to my breakfast and decided that I had not eaten anything that would cause such a feeling. Maybe the coffee was overly harsh...? Anyway, by the time I got halfway through the second section of the prospectus, my heart was pounding and I was beginning to have a churning in the pit of my stomach.  Well, not exactly in my stomach. Not exactly anywhere that I could pinpoint.

I continued to read, and it seemed that accompanying the churning was a very emphatic negative response to this prospectus. It was like someone was saying "NO! NO!" as I was reading.  It was so much more extreme than usual that at first I did not recognize it as a "check in my spirit."  I had experienced those before, generally while praying with other people who were able to help me discern what they meant, or during the reading of Scripture where something would jump out at me in a negative way that just happened to pertain to something that needed to change in my life, but that I didn't especially want to change.

But nothing that made me feel like I was going to be physically ill.  I called my husband at work. He was in a good mood and wanted to talk about how awesome it was going to be when we had our own condo.  I was sweating. He was so happy, and I knew I had to say something that I was sure he was going to argue about.

"This is probably going to sound crazy, but I think the Lord doesn't want us to move to Ewing."

I braced myself for a tirade. What I got instead was almost as shocking as the initial feeling of turmoil.

"Really! How come?"

"Well, I have a check in my spirit.  I have been reading this prospectus, and I have never been so miserable. It's like God is saying 'Absolutely not!'"

"Okay," he replied cheerfully. Call and see if you can get our money back."  End of discussion.

Wait, what?  "Who is this and what has he done with Don?" I thought as I hung up the phone. But as soon as the receiver clicked into place, the discomfort stopped.  Just like that.

In my regular phone call with Mama that evening, she asked how things were progressing. Ugh. She was going to think I was crazy. I had raved on about how great this was going to be, and now I couldn't think of a single excuse to give her.  So I told her the truth.

I don't remember the exact conversation, only that it was awkward.  She didn't understand my certainty that it was a message from God rather than indigestion, but she didn't mock me, either.  The subject dropped, and we didn't speak of it again.

We did get our money back, and in October of 1989, we became the proud owners of a townhome in Robbinsville.  The whole Ewing incident was long forgotten. Until November 17.

The day before I had been at a small weekly prayer meeting at a friend's home, which broke up early because of some pretty serious weather developing. There had been some terrible stuff happening in Huntsville, Alabama the day before - a deadly tornado that killed 21 people.  What we had was nothing like that. Big black clouds, high winds. The last of the leaves blowing off the trees. Limbs and power lines down.  I was glad I didn't typically have anywhere to go on a Thursday night, but I certainly didn't fear for my life.

The next morning I dropped my cup of coffee when I saw the front page of the Trenton Times. They almost never used color photographs, but in this case they made an exception. There, in living color, was the beautiful second floor condo we had wanted to buy with the wall blown out of it and scraps of someone's furniture and belongings hanging out of the gaping hole.  Then a whisper, "See, I have told you ahead of time."

I called my husband at work.  "Have you seen the Times??" I asked breathlessly.  He had not, and my demeanor frightened him, I sounded so crazy.  "It's the condo, the Ewing condo. It got blown away by a tornado yesterday!"  

Only God could have known.  I have had that "check in my spirit" a few other times since that day, and you can bet I have not ignored it.

I cut out the article and sent it to Mama, with a Post-it attached that said:

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." - Matthew 7:24-27
After she died, I found the article in the night table beside her bed, stained and a little torn, fragile in the way old newspaper becomes when it is frequently folded and unfolded.  A reminder of the goodness of God, and the reality of having a personal relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.

Take time this Thanksgiving to remember the goodness of God, and the many things you have to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Under Construction" - A trip down Internet Memory Lane

The other day one of my Digg buds, the venerable Amy Vernon, unearthed this page where someone had scraped thousands of "Under Construction" .gif files from GeoCities, the now defunct free website service that was once available to everyone with a Yahoo email account.

She posted the link on Facebook, and I commented "nothing says 1996 like a flashing 'Under Construction' gif."

Been thinking about that ever since. Have you been on the internet long enough to remember GeoCities, or Or those flashing "Under Construction" .gifs? 1996 is almost 15 years ago. I can hardly believe that. The only thing more overused in those days was a spinning globe.

Yahoo itself was still a directory site, with about 370,000 listings. By today's hyper-realistic graphic standards. we can see how primitive it all was, but at the time it was the threshhold of a brave new world.

There were almost no business websites on the web in those days. No Google, and the big "social networking site" was, a "nostalgia" site that started in 1995 as a way for people to reconnect with people they went to school with.

I was one of the first ten people from my school to sign up from any class, and the first person from my high school class.  So I suppose it is appropriate that I am coordinating the website and Facebook page for our 40th class reunion in 2011.

That was also the year, at the behest of my son, I became the -ahem- webmaster of  "Domzilla's Godzilla Page". Talk about primitive!  But along with Mark's Godzilla Page (the original!), Conster's Museum of Godzilla, Barry's Temple of Godzilla, The Euro-Goji Home Page "Goji-World" (there is still a site called GojiWorld that is about Goji berries, or juice or something) and other sites, we were the worldwide web fan base for all things Godzilla.  Incredibly, there is still a page listing all those old Godzilla sites, complete with a scary MIDI file of Godzilla music and multiple flashing gifs.  Those were the days.

Check out the URL! Domain names? What's that? It was several years later before we bought the domain name, which is now a domain hosting site. As for, I can't believe it is still there also. So many others have bitten the dust.

Well, thanks for joining me on my trip down memory lane. What are some of your favorite memories of the internet in the 1990s?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A new way to look at your Potential!

Thanks for your patience with my writer's block for the past month. It has been a long time since I neglected this blog for such a long time.  I know I am not homeschooling any more, but I had decided to write about other things.  I guess I still don't know what to write about.

What would you like to read about? Seriously, this is not a rhetorical question. I would like some ideas. Since the other part of this blog was supposed to be "home business" - would you want to hear about home business ideas, or are there already too many of those out there?

Meanwhile, here is another interesting read from my old email files. I was actually archiving and deleting things, and I came upon this in the "Deleted Items" archive folder.  My sister-in-law sent it to me in 2005. It was by no means the oldest item in the folder. There were actually things in there from 2003.

Pause for a moment and contemplate someone who has saved deleted emails since 2003.  I bet you didn't know there was such a person. That will make the story that follows even more amusing.  It is entitled

No Email

An unemployed man is desperate to support his family of a wife and three kids. He applies for a janitor's job at a large firm and easily passes an aptitude test.

The human resources manager tells him, "You will be hired at minimum wage of $5.35 an hour. Let me have your e-mail address so that we can get you in the loop. Our system will automatically e-mail you all the forms and advise you when to start and where to report on your first day."

Taken back, the man protests that he is poor and has neither a computer nor an e-mail address. To this the manager replies, "You must understand that to a company like ours that means that you virtually do not exist. Without an e-mail address you can hardly expect to be employed by a high-tech firm. Good day."

Stunned, the man leaves. Not knowing where to turn and having $10 in his wallet, he walks past a farmers' market and sees a stand selling 25 lb. crates of beautiful red tomatoes. He buys a crate, carries it to a busy corner and displays the tomatoes. In less than 2 hours he sells all the tomatoes and makes 100% profit. Repeating the process several times more that day, he ends up with almost $100 and arrives home that night with several bags of groceries for his family.

During the night he decides to repeat the tomato business the next day. By the end of the week he is getting up early every day and working into the night. He multiplies his profits quickly. Early in the second week he acquires a cart to transport several boxes of tomatoes at a time, but before a month is up he sells the cart to buy a broken-down pickup truck.

At the end of a year he owns three old trucks. His two sons have left their neighborhood gangs to help him with the tomato business, his wife is buying the tomatoes, and his daughter is taking night courses at the community college so she can keep books for him.

By the end of the second year he has a dozen very nice used trucks and employs fifteen previously unemployed people, all selling tomatoes. He continues to work hard.

Time passes and at the end of the fifth year he owns a fleet of nice trucks and a warehouse that his wife supervises, plus two tomato farms that the boys manage. The tomato company's payroll has put hundreds of homeless and joblesspeople to work. His daughter reports that the business grossed a million dollars. Planning for the future, he decides to buy some life insurance.

Consulting with an insurance adviser, he picks an insurance plan to fit his new circumstances.

Then the adviser asks him for his e-mail address in order to send the final documents electronically.

When the man replies that he doesn't have time to mess with a computer and has no e-mail address, the insurance man is stunned, "What, you don't have e-mail? No computer? No Internet? Just think where you would be today if you'd had all of that five years ago!"

"Ha!" snorts the man. "If I'd had e-mail five years ago I would be sweeping floors at Microsoft and making $5.35 an hour."

Which brings us to the moral of the story: Since you got this story by e-mail, you're probably closer to being a janitor than a millionaire.