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Technology—a Bane or a Blessing?

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My parents used to describe someone who was perpetually late and low on cash as “a day late and a dollar short.” In the parlance of my day, it was “he needs to get his act together.”  Even though I am retired, have few deadlines, and more than adequate resources, I have felt more and more lately that these apply to me, and it is not for lack of trying. I even know the culprit, and I bet it is a problem for some of you too—technology, mainly in the form of social media.

We all know some good things about our digital abilities. We can keep in touch with family and friends easily and quickly. We can accomplish financial tasks with relative ease, and shopping is a breeze. The world is at our fingertips!

I wager you recognize the inherent problems in our use of technology as well. To begin with, the “world” doesn’t stop at our fingertips, it knocks on the door and then pushes on through in the form of unwanted emails, and Facebook requests. The negativity continues on social media where people say hurtful, thoughtless things that I hope they would never say to someone’s face and shouldn’t say online. Bullying happens all too often and is inexcusable.

My problem, however, is the overwhelming feeling of being incapable of keeping up: keeping up with posting on my blog, reading the blogs of those I follow, and then commenting on their posts. There are some truly significant posts going up every day. I want to read them and interact with other bloggers. Meanwhile, there is email and more email. Several times a year I unsubscribe from some email senders, but the dent is small. Ironically, the more active I try to be in communicating with bloggers, the bigger my inbox grows resulting in less time for blogging.

Facebook can be a huge time drain, and I have cut back on my use of it. It is, however, a wonderful way to keep in touch with family and friends. Instagram is a new part of my repertoire, but I only follow a few people and I personally don’t post. I have no plans for expansion.

On my phone there is text messaging and WhatsApp which is very popular in Mexico. Lest I forget, my computer is a ready tool for looking things up and for Spanish dictionaries, translators, and tutorials. Like the cute mouse in the children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, when given a little, I always want more. Perhaps like me, when you get on the computer to accomplish one task, you get distracted and find yourself down Alice’s rabbit hole pursuing an entirely different line of thought.

The bottom line is that I am digitally overwhelmed on a good day. When I am in rural New Mexico, my Internet connection (as I have whined publicly so many times) is abysmal. Should there be interruptions such as illness or travel, to the normal flow of life, then the tides pull the sand out from under my feet and the waves cover me completely.

Certainly I could withdraw from all of this. Literally pull the plug. There are, however, so many benefits to the digital world. I love reading and sharing thoughts about books online, thus helping authors, publishers, and fellow readers. I used to doubt that one could make friends online, but I now see that it happens, and I value those friendships along with relationships with my other  friends. I enjoy watching the growth of my family and friends’ little ones over the quickly disappearing years. I can keep in touch with those I love even though I live in a different country. For me the benefits do outweigh the issues, and so I keep fighting the good fight.

This discussion does not even try to address the balancing act of virtual life with real life; that is a whole other topic. Does anyone else feel the pain and pleasure of the digital age? I would love to hear your thoughts and solutions.

Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All

Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All

by Karen Ehman

Keep it ShutHave you ever stopped to think about the “aweful” (and sometimes awful) power our tongues can have? Like, maybe, when you put your foot in your mouth…again? Or, perhaps, you have pondered the good in your life when someone spoke words of kindness and encouragement. Karen Ehman has written a special, down-to-earth book for those interested in taming the tongue: Keep It Shut: What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All.

This book is humorous and full of anecdotes. It is also biblically based and gets REAL about the issues that all honest women will admit arise in their lives from time to time—especially in this digital age.  Ehman addresses various problems of communication including listening, talking to God before talking to others, gossip, flattery, and anger. She shares verses from Proverbs as the original tweets, and they are powerful. It turns out the Bible has a lot to say about what we have to say.

Ehman concludes Keep It Shut by summarizing tips and tricks derived from the body of her book as a quick and easy way to refer back to those truths. She discusses ways to find time and opportunities to get away with God for a few minutes or hours to be grounded in Him so you can make Godly decisions about what to say and when to say it. She lists ten verses that will “help you watch your words.” She has questions to ponder to help you examine your motives and decide if something is gossip or not. Ehman doesn’t stop at the negative. She also includes “powerful phrases” to speak to various people in your life and Scripture verses, quotes, and phrases that you can photocopy and display around your home or office as reminders.

Keep It Shut had a surprisingly big impact on me, giving me a lot to think about. One example is the “white lie.” Yes, I do tell white lies occasionally to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. Ehman discusses the dangers of that and offers alternatives. I recommend Keep It Shut for the humor, the chatty presentation, and the Godly truths found in its pages.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Christian, Nonfiction

Notes: Ehman addresses women in her book because psychologists have shown that women speak a lot more words every day than men (20,000 compared to 7,000). Of course there are exceptions, but in general women have a lot more opportunities to get in trouble because of things they say than men.  Men, the biblical truths in this book would not be wasted on you either!

Publication:   January 6, 2015—Zondervan

Memorable Lines:

Don’t say something permanently painful just because you are temporarily ticked off.

All the humans you encounter throughout the course of the day are “on purpose” people. God plopped them into your life for a reason.

When we harden our hearts and let every little offense poke a hole in our happiness, we only hurt ourselves…But when we soften our hearts with love for others, and toughen our skins against their barbs, we are better equipped to show the compassionate love of Jesus to a watching world.

Midnight Snacks are Murder–humor shares the spotlight with mystery

Midnight Snacks are Murder

by Libby Klein

Midnight Snacks are MurderAs Poppy McAllister struggles to renovate a Queen Anne Victorian into a B & B to support herself and her aunt who raised her, she finds herself in the thick of a lot of situations. Personally, she is torn between her old flame Tim, a local chef, and Gia who owns a coffee shop and has commissioned Poppy to make gluten-free treats for his shop. Poppy is also juggling some pretty quirky characters on the home front: Smitty, a handyman reminiscent of the Three Stooges; Aunt Ginny, an eightyish aunt determined to live life to the fullest; Georgina, her domineering mother-in-law; and Figaro, her cat who is always in the middle of things. Unfortunately, Poppy, recently returned to Cape May, finds herself embroiled in the second murder in less than a year. This time, however, she is not a suspect, but has to clear her rather kooky aunt of charges.

Libby Kein’s Midnight Snacks are Murder is a very funny cozy mystery with lots of amusing zingers sometimes addressed to others, but more often what Poppy is thinking. The plot moves along quickly as blame passes to a number of characters and the victim is shown in various lights ranging from evil to saint. Poppy has to find out the complex truth about him in order to vindicate her aunt. The first book in the series was lots of fun and so is this one. 

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: #2 in the Poppy McAllister Mystery Series but works well as a standalone.

Publication:   July 31, 2018—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

I had a better chance of teaching a badger to ride a bike than winning an argument with Aunt Ginny.

Her supermodel good looks made me feel more schlubby the moment she floated into the kitchen. But then I was too tired to grouse this morning about what God had given me and Betty Crocker had perfected, so I moved on to acceptance faster than usual.

Those kids could text the Constitution in thirty seconds using just emojis.

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