Worship

One of the attributes of modern society that puzzles me most is the habit of denying the value of an action or attitude whilst simultaneously engaging in the same characteristics in a modified form. I know the simple nine letter noun that sums the habit up succinctly. Since i have always been a woman of more words rather than less, i will allow Miss Bates to run rampant for a minute, but only one, i can afford no more.

Worship is often relegated to the storage-rooms of history.

It is wrapped in archival paper and shut away in boxes by those who labourously toil behind a screen always scrambling to stay ahead of the market. The one thing that is valued most and occupies more of our time than any other pursuit; that which we treasure more than any other-this is what we worship.

We all worship something or someone.

Twenty centuries ago the Apostle Matthew told us that what we treasure most is where our heart will be. He did not tell us that where our heart is our treasuer will follow. We often think that our heart decides what is most dear to us. St. Matthew said that our money or treasure determines where our heart will be. We worship what motivates our spending or giving.

Where do your time and money go?

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Write31Days

This will be a challenging October. This blog will hopefully come to life again! For 2017 i am joining the Write31Days power group for the third year. In October 2016 i was about to get married and the last six weeks of a wedding is insane enough on its own, so i skipped the October mayhem. If you are unfamiliar with Write 31 Days 2017 it is a LARGE group of bloggers who all commit to posting every day for the entire month of October. Who needs scary costumes or candy when you are trying to accomplish that?

Since i am restarting this blog i am keeping it simple for this year. After all, what is writing and posting each day for thirty-one days in a row, with the deadline of midnight ticking away to get the lead out of your fingers and get a writer going again? Are we not a group who are infamous for needing deadlines and imminent peril to force us out of our comfort-zones and requiring us to share our writing?

Grammarly and i are entirely aware of the peculiar capitalization rule that i have suddenly forgotten. As i mature in years, faith and marriage (almost 11 months) i have come to realize that i am not the only one who is always sure that they know best. Following the example of Mother Gavrilia, i have begun a practice of keeping my i humble and not capitalizing myself. If i say anything that is any value it will not be because of my brilliance anyway. The practice of making the self the center of one’s thought requires no assistance and the remedy necessitates of extraordinary effort.

i will be joining the FMF team also this year. Check them out here.Five Minute Friday

31 Days themes are thanks to Kate Motaung! For simplicity check them out right here…

  1. worship
  2. tell
  3. create
  4. hope
  5. trust
  6. story
  7. hold
  8. truth
  9. plan
  10. listen
  11. remember
  12. write
  13. invite
  14. try
  15. remain
  16. read
  17. grow
  18. share
  19. brave
  20. discover
  21. give
  22. light
  23. work
  24. revise
  25. because
  26. change
  27. ? (FMF prompt)
  28. connect
  29. follow
  30. refine
  31. rest

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Pretty Dishes

Found on Pinterest from zanzaire.tumblr.com

Found on Pinterest from zanzaire.tumblr.com

Beauty

The word calms me somehow.

I thought that it sounded silly or superficial.

On Facebook you inevitably end up with an advertisement for a free personality test. I ignored these for years. Eventually I stumbled into one and found out that according to Myers-Briggs I am an ISFJ. For those of you who don’t know this translates to tell me that I am introverted as opposed to extraverted, inspired by the five senses rather than intuitive, feeling as opposed to analytical and what they call judging vs. perception. The last of these being less clear that the other means that I believe that there are absolutes, like truth, right, wrong, etc.

This would not seem to have anything to do with today’s topic, except that ISFJ’s apparently are strongly motivated by a love of beauty. My next statement will blow the whole hypothesis, however.

I love dishes.

The hole in the hypothesis is that my sister also love dishes and she is an INFJ.

We come from a long matrilineal line of dish collectors.

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I probably can’t blame the dishes on my personality, unless it is inherited.Might there be a gene that brings about a deep fondness for eating on pretty plates? If such a gene exists I have it.

I don’t actually have that many dishes, but what I have I consciously choose from and rotate them for each meal. I only once served regular meals on paper plates and that was because of a kitchen remodel that denied me a kitchen sink.

Ready to have my friends for tea

Ready to have my friends for tea

Each ordinary evening I set out the pretty plates on a cloth tablecloth. The food, be it ever so humble, tastes much better with a candle lit and coordinating tablescape. Even if I am exhausted and we only eat frozen meals, the pretty tea-pot, mugs and matched flatware, candle and cloth napkins are present. It creates a sense of calm. The dinner topics may end up political, ugh, but I created a soothing atmosphere to start the meal.

Dishes tell us something about not only our desire for beauty and order. They also speak to our sense of priorities. I value relationships highly. Part of my desire to focus on relationships is played out in the sharing of a leisurely meal with those I love.

All day long I fight the clock to accomplish as much as possible from my Opportunities List (To Do List). When I place dinner on the table I am setting aside the clock for an hour. I am prioritizing people over tasks. I am trying to make ordinary memories.

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We begin with prayer. The meal is sacred. It is a family event for us and God, who is present with us.

I do not earn a pleasant dinner. It matters not how far I have come that day. It is a benediction, a blessing. We offer thanks for the food and with that I offer myself up to God and those I love. The scones may have been too crumbly. The stir-fry might be bland or the rice in a bit of a clump. Grace isn’t just what we call the blessing, it is what we are offered. God gives me grace as cook and so does my family. It doesn’t need to be special.

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Each day is a gift and every dinner comes with pretty dishes.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

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Joy and Strength

Today I am joining the gang at Five Minute Friday’s at Kate Motaung’s blog. The word for today is JOY. Five Minutes-Free Writing-No excessive Edits

Go:

“The Joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Joy: it is the name of friends.
It is the word on one of my favorite teacups.
We see it plenty of times at Christmas.

Joy is something we all want to feel, but like all feelings it comes and it goes.
Much sought after and hard to hold on to; joy weaves itself in and out of my life. I wish I could say that joy is a feeling that I find myself in possession of frequently.

Joy is not really just a feeling. According to Nehemiah 8:10 it is the source of our strength.

Wow, strength is a word that I think I need even more than I need joy. I am beginning physical therapy this week. I have been run down with health problems and I need to keep my muscles strong while I heal. Strength is what I really need. The Word of God tells me that joy leads to strength.

Stop:

The Word tells us that finding our joy in the presence of the Lord is the ultimate strength.

All we need is God and we will have joy and strength.

We are not dependent upon health or feelings.

All we need is to be in God’s presence.

Do You Practice?

Brushes are versatile and solve many of our needs. We can brush our hair, clothes, clean electronics, or paint with a brush.

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Cleaning and painting are important activities. Despite the functionality, I wonder how many people today actually have brushes? I have noticed in stores a tendency to see paint rollers over brushes. Clothing brushes are rare to see today. We seem more likely to take garments to dry cleaners and shoes to the shoe-shine. Hair brushes are often made with plastic bristles so that they can be used on wet hair.

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My favorite brushes are used for painting, but not walls. I confess that not being an experienced wall painter I used a paint roller. Painting watercolors has made me aware of brushes in a way that I never was before. The variety is astounding. Varying the construction slightly creates an inviting array of results.

Effective use of all brushes requires practice.

In our modern culture we do not often allow ourselves the time to master the use of brushes. Practice is becoming something of a lost art. In most areas we expect to become functional almost immediately.

  • How much time do we spend practicing?
  • Do you practice? If so, what do you practice? Is it a sport or a musical instrument?
  • Or did you give up practice time when you left school?

The demand to be instantly competent has crept into our culture with stealth. It can be difficult to find a time when church choirs can practice. People want choirs. They even want to be in choirs, but they have no time to practice.

  • Why has practice become less important than actual performance?
  • Do you think God only hears you during worship?
  • Or is it that we unconsciously feel like practice is unimportant since the congregation will no long hear?
  • Have we been acclimated to value only performance and not practice?

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In some ways I wonder if this has even crept into our attitudes toward children?

  • Have you not heard of parents who search high and low for something their child has natural talent for?

If the child believes he/she must be “great” at an activity in order to participate they will never learn the value of hard work, or the sense of accomplishment when they finally master a skill that challenged them.

Where I worry most about this is in the area of our faith.

  • Who has mastered faith?

No one! We practice our faith. If we feel that we are really weak in one area, that is the place where we need to practice most. When we remove the time to practice and believe that we need only perform, how will any of us retain our integrity and be able to worship?

  • Why would worship be a performance?
  • Who are we trying to impress?

We are created to worship simply because we are made to stop and tell God how wonderful He is. It is not about what we get out of it. It exists to give God glory.

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I think that we leave the doing of faith, like the singing and teaching in church, to the professionals out of the same place that causes us to take the suit to the cleaners rather than brush it ourselves. We don’t have skills to brush mud off wool. We aren’t skilled musicians. We are not trained theologians. Someone might ask us a question that we cannot answer about the Bible.

We need to relearn the art of practice in our culture. There are plenty of skills that we can learn if we practice. It is good for us to learn how to hold a paintbrush even if we are not planning on becoming professional painters. Most of all we need to let the children around us learn that we do not need to perform every minute. There is time to learn all our lives. We can try, and fail and try again. We can worship God as imperfect creatures. Making time to practice is a productive use of time.

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Schedule some time this week to practice something. Perhaps some use of a brush that you have never mastered would be your choice. This might be the time you clean out your electric shaver, or paint a door, a picture, or brush your cat.

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  • What about one-hundred strokes with your Grandmother’s beautiful hairbrush that you inherited and never used?

The biggest challenge of all is not to tell anyone what you practiced. Let it be an offering between you and God. Tell Him that you will try to be more patient in practicing your faith. What is seen is temporal what is not seen is eternal. We need to allow ourselves time for the eternal.

Are Children Afraid of Lullabies?

https://www.pinterest.com/cheztemp/colleen-moores-fairy-castle/

Rock-a-by-baby’s cradle from Collene Moore’s Dollhouse https://www.pinterest.com/cheztemp/colleen-moores-fairy-castle/

Rock-a-by-baby,
On the tree top,
When the wind blows,
The cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks,
The cradle will fall,
And down will come baby,
Cradle and all.

I met a woman last week who told me she would not sing, “Rock-a-by-baby” to her children lest it give them nightmares about the cradle falling. She also said that she censored fairy-tales and Bible stories that might be too frightening for children. They only heard them when they were older.
I didn’t really know what to say. My Mother loved me more than life and I was never afraid in her presence. She sang me, “Rock-a-by-baby” every night and I never once was afraid of the cradle falling.
It did cause me to wonder. How do we feel about lullabies as adults? Were you ever worried about the cradle falling? Did Little Red Ridding Hood scare you? As I look back, I was so secure in my parent’s love that I feared nothing when I was with them. If they sang the song or read the story I assumed it would all work out alright. I came to expect happy endings.
Naturally it came as a shock when I was big enough to realize that my parents couldn’t do everything. I was sad that they couldn’t make the world right and fair, but I was also grateful that they did their best.
Perhaps I was eased into the idea that my parents weren’t able to slay every foe because I knew that they relied upon God for the things that were overwhelming to them. I knew that everything did not work out. I knew that I had an older sister who only lived three days. I remember a neighbor telling my Mother that she was shocked that I had been told about that. Her reaction to my knowledge made an enough of an impression on me that I remember asking my Mother about it later.

My Mother told me that some people didn’t think children should know about tragedy. My Mother reminded me that God was the one who was ultimately in control and He was looking after my sister that I never met. We would all be together one day and then for all eternity. I was not afraid. God was loving. He was our Father.
When I was in elementary school and I came across injustices that my Daddy couldn’t fix, I comforted myself with the remembrance that God was our ultimate Father and someday everything would be made right.
I suppose, upon reflection, that all of this is the reason I still believe that the future is bright. I am all too well aware that this world contains much tragedy and inequity. My Daddy now leans on me when we go places together. My Mother is with my sister waiting for the rest of us in heaven. But my Father in Heaven is the one who is ultimately in charge. He is all good and all loving. Jesus will come back again one day. There will be a new Heaven and a new Earth. The lion will lie down with the lamb. All will be right.

I am confident that life has a happy ending. I face each new day with optimism. I don’t believe in fairy-tales. I believe in Jesus.

  • What do you think? Are lullabies like “Rock-a-by-baby” too scary for little children?
  • What is you opinion about fairy-tales? Some have very violent content.
  • How do video games fit into this discussion? Should they be part of this discussion?
  • What do you think of teaching stories like Noah and the Ark, or Daniel in the Lion’s Den?
  • From where do you think children derive their sense of security?

I am not asserting that I have all the answers, dear readers. I am interested in the ideas of other about these questions. I had not really pondered them before and I think they are compelling questions. I look forward to your replies.

A Tangled Life

child-562297__180 When I was a little girl I loved reading the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I think that is where it actually began. She described the rag doll that Ma made her for Christmas in The Little House in the Big Woods. I’m pretty sure she had knitted garters and stockings.

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Sewing, cooking and knitting occurred in various degrees in all the books. My mother taught me to sew and cook. I wanted to learn to knit and crochet like a well-rounded Victorian little girl. My mother didn’t know how to work with yarn. She tried to get me in a class at the local yarn purveyor, but they didn’t want to teach a child. I eventually got in a class at the local creative arts center.

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You wouldn’t expect it to become that important, but in a way my life has been a steady stream of yarn knitted into a whole.

I’m not sure I remember everything that I have knit. I was taught to knit a rectangle that was made into a simple slipper. One was so badly done as to be unwearable.

Somewhere in that second slipper my fingers learned the process. It quickly worked it’s was into muscle memory and my hands know how to knit and pearl without looking, or even much thinking about what I am doing.

Knitting has become ingrained into me.

I find knitting very relaxing. Some people talk about running and reaching a state of peace and pleasure from the experience. I think they call it a, “runners high.” For me that is the feel of the yarn flowing through my hand and the twists and turns of my hands.

The extra blessing of knitting is that useful garments ooze out of the process. I bore easily, so I always knit something new each time. One year I made all my friends mufflers for Christmas. I began in June. The interesting part is that each scarf was different. A different pattern and new type of yarn. It was a fun way to experiment with novelty yarns.

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When I don’t have a project on my needles I feel like something is missing. Honestly, I find myself looking at my knitting basket, then remembering I don’t have anything to knit, and feeling empty.

I knit continental. The fact that I always have the working yarn running toward the needles makes me a fast knitter. My fingers start to fly as soon as I start to learn the pattern. Being a fast knitter means that I run out of projects ready too quickly.

I just knit a new fall hat last month. I bought two balls of a merino-silk worsted weight blend. I knew I probably needed only one ball, but it would be close and I buy most of my yarn mail-order. Now I have a finished hat and a second untouched ball. I thought about mitts and looked through my patterns, but nothing really spoke to me. I already have a matching caplet I knit a few years ago.

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The merino-silk blend has a wonderful feel as it slide through my fingers. I think it is the feel of the yarn that I find most pleasurable in knitting. I don’t like knitting rough or synthetic yarn. Wool is my favorite due to it’s stretch. Fighting my yarn is not enjoyable.

The absolute most important feature of yarn is the idea of one long continuous piece of fiber. The concept represented in knitting is the best characteristic. If there were no other reason to knit I would knit to remind myself that it can all be unraveled.

No matter how tangled, confused, unworkable the piece becomes it can always be fixed.

Because it is one long, uncut piece of yarn it can be “unknit.” If it tangles it can be untangled.

Life can feel too much like a messy piece of knitted work.

There are moments when you think that you cannot go on. It can never be made right. Life leaves scars. Knitting does not. Knitting can be undone and remade exactly right.

As a recovering perfectionist I do not remove all my mistakes.

Unless it will alter the usability of the item, or leave a hole, I leave my mistakes in and simply correct the row in which I found the error.

In quilting there is a concept of the “humility block” where if the piece would otherwise be prefect they add a mistake to remember that we are only human. I regard the slight imperfections in my work as signs of the fact that while I am flawed I am made and loved by a perfect God.

Nothing can happen to me that God cannot help me to redeem. In Romans 8:28, St. Paul reminds us that, “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” In my tangles I feel confident in my ability as a knitter of many years experience that I can repair the problem and move on.

Both the repair and the moving on are important parts of the crisis redemption. In life the same process must be undertaken.

Sometimes I must unknit in order to create something new. Always I need to undertake the process of remaking in light of the pattern. What was the purpose in the first place? Look at the big picture. What does the finished garment look like? How can you get back to the appropriate pattern?

I have never had anyone else able to find my corrections when the garment is finished. Even the worst mistakes can be worked out with a ball of yarn. It can be twisted and pulled into an amazing array of items. The longer you work at it the easier it becomes to unravel mistakes.

The more time we spend in Bible study and prayer the better we understand how to unravel life. It is one, long story. We are just a strand in a magnificent whole. Sometimes what looks like a mistake turns out to be a new stitch. Those of us who think ourselves particularly flawed are just the ones adding “texture” to the fabric of life. It all come out in the end. Fix the problem and move on. And On…

What should I knit next? Do any of you readers have suggestions for something that could be made with one skein and might be of some use with a hat?

Today I am linking up with Holley Gerth and Coffee for Your Soul. What encourages you to keep going when things are rough? How can you use that experience to encourage others to hold on to Jesus when life unravels? Holley-Gerth-Button-250x250

<a href=”http://holleygerth.com&#8221; target=”_blank”><img src=”http://holleygerth.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Holley-Gerth-Button-250×250.jpg”></a&gt;

Old Photos

My Dad with my Mother in front with his Mom, Dad and brother behind

My Dad with my Mother in front with his Mom, Dad and brother behind. This one he kept secure in an album.

Looking at old photos is heart-warming for the sentimental. I enjoy looking not only at my own old photos, but also the photos of others.

Today I have been looking at my Dad’s old photos.

That is the curious thing about old pictures, some people are not that attached to them. My Dad bought a camera and took enough pictures to fill an album when he was in the army. He developed his own pictures before he became busy with kids. He did keep the pictures he took.

The pictures that his mother had of him as a little boy and young man, however, he had no attachment to whatever.

My Dad on the right

My Dad on the right

After his mother died he put the old pictures that she had in the basement! They were virtually all ruined. I finally scanned some of what survived today. He took good care of the pictures that he took as a young man. Why didn’t he care about the pictures from when he was a child? I asked him. He just told me that he isn’t sentimental.

I even like stranger’s old pictures. I wonder about their stories. Were they happy? Did they only try to look formal and stiff because they thought that was how to pose for a photo?

People once posed in very series expressions with very stiff positions. In one of the “abandoned” old pictures of my Dad’s childhood they all look incredibly uncomfortable. My grandparents never smiled in a picture.

Finally when my Dad started taking pictures after he came home from the army his parents began to smile once in a while in snapshots. I wonder if all that stiff, formality was part of going to have a professional picture taken? My Dad looked miserable on the formal portraits of him and his brother before his brother went into the navy. What did they say to him? Did they tell him the pictures were to keep a memory if his brother was killed? Or did he have to stand very still for an incredibly long time?

Uncle Joe looks a lot happier than Dad

My Dad was the younger brother, by the way, don’t let size fool you. Is it the wretched expression of the sixteen year old having to stay at home with Mom and Dad while his brother goes off to see the world, win a war and gain glory and adventure?

That is more or less what my Dad said he thought of the war. Right until he was on a troop ship heading off to sea. Then it became real. He said that it was not until then that he realized he could die or be maimed. My Dad was blessed that when he arrived on the other side of the ocean the war had only three days left. He didn’t know when he set sail it was to be a switchboard operator in the occupation force.

He probably doesn’t remember that particular portrait, but I’ll have to ask him about all those professional portraits. He does remember that as a very young boy he was the one rubbing the fabric of his short pants. He was never good at holding still. Perhaps that is why he never liked the professional portraits his mother had. That could explain how they ended up in the basement.

Another one of my Dad's pictures. Look at how proud his Dad looks. Is that why he kept this one safe?

Another one of my Dad’s pictures. Look at how proud his Dad looks. Is that why he kept this one safe?

Silence

On this October Sabbath a restful poem to savor in a bit of quiet.
How blissful is silence

When the world is filled with strife.

Like the simple vista

That best displays a life.

How lovely is sunshine,

On a cloudy day.

Or, when the earth is parched

A welcome bit of rain.

How soothing is music,

Or joyous laughter,

But most restful is

The quiet we’re after.

How relaxing is stillness

We hear from without.

But perfect is silence within

That resolves doubt.

From the Monumental to the Ephemeral

Paper

The series this month investigates unexpected thoughts upon the ordinary. We live in an era of plenteous, inexpensive paper. More paper is dumped in the landfill than is recycled despite the fact that we are becoming conscientious about recycling. More paper is made for temporary use such as bathroom tissue and paper towels than is manufactured for books or newspapers. In many ways we are just beginning to come to grips with how much paper we use. Most of us are not willing to adopt cloth baby diapers, although I know mothers who have done just that.

As an avid reader the use of paper for books is something that I am aware of. I personally regard my books as long-term companions. I was appalled when I discovered the old, “brittle-books” and was shocked to discover some of the lengths that librarians were being forced to go to try to save books that were literally disintegrating. In the second part of the nineteenth century the “acid” paper production began and made paper manufacture cheap. The resultant cost reduction has been touted as one of the reasons for the dramatic increases in book production that occurred. Cheap books were not the only result. A century’s worth of literary output was put in jeopardy since the paper deteriorates at an alarming rate and becomes dust.

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By the end of the twentieth century book producers had reduced the use of “acid” papers in favor of “alkaline” paper for all but mass market paperbacks. While I am grateful that most of my library is safe from the rapid self-destruction of acid paper, I bought a book a few weeks ago printed in England that turned out to be printed on the old foe. I bought it online and did not know it was printed on “acid” paper. Personally I don’t understand why any books are being printed on such paper. If you don’t intend to keep the book why don’t you borrow it from a library or read it on a digital device. Why do we need books printed on self-destructive paper?

We live in the unfortunate age where we must shred much of the paper we receive to avoid identity theft yet we still produce “acid” paper for some books! The advertisements for endless credit-cards do not appear to be on cheap paper. They are endeavoring to look as important as possible.

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What responsibility does the Western consumer bear for the manufacture of so much of the world’s “acid” paper in China? They are not known for environmental considerations. Ought we be buying mass-market paperbacks on paper that is more dangerous to the local ecology if that environment is half-way around the world? I think not.

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I love history and historic items. I don’t have any original Victorian papers, but I do think they are lovely. The collectors of the old calling cards, greeting cards, advertisements and other lithographs are hunting for the lovely pieces of the past that have endured. It is called the collecting of Ephemera since antique “bits of paper” are as ephemeral an item as exists.

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These tiny scraps of paper tell us so much about the people who lived before. Their journals, letters and other ordinary records fill in the details of remarkable and simple lives alike. Their legacy is valuable. They tell of life in an epic age of expansion. We are moving further away from paper today. In some ways that is good, but in other ways I do find a bit of doubt.

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How durable is our legacy if we are recording it with bits and bytes? They say that anything uploaded to the internet remains forever. However, will anyone have the tools necessary to read a blog from 2015 in 2080? This blog may not be important in the scheme of things, but could we be a part of something not much different from the “acid” paper debacle in our use of technology? We cannot know what lies ahead. Based on what we can learn from what went before, I think I should print paper copies of some of the precious photos I am storing on the “cloud” just in case I want to see them when I am an old lady.