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Trying to stay organized

March 24, 2009

Many people describe me as a busy person.  I am always doing something…  Being so busy, I need a good system to staying organized.  I’ve tried Getting Things Done, Outlook, Excel sheets, Remember the Milk, Traditional “Things to Do” lists, and more.

This week I am trying Microsoft Office OneNote.  It looks like an electronic filing system, which is perfect for me.  Traditional filing systems haven’t been working because I have three offices – home, church, and where ever I am (wifi & blackberry). 

The Top 10 Reasons on Microsoft’s website won me over.

Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 is a digital notebook that provides a flexible way to gather notes and information, powerful search capabilities so users can find what they are looking for quickly, and easy-to-use shared notebooks that help teams work together more effectively.

  Gather your notes and information in one place.Gather, store, and manage your notes and information — including text, pictures, digital handwriting, audio and video recordings, and more — in a single location. Having all your important information at your fingertips can help you make more informed decisions and be better prepared.
  Back up your valuable information.Office OneNote 2007 automatically saves and backs up your notebooks, whether stored locally or on a network file share, so you’re less vulnerable to data loss.
  Find information more quickly.Powerful search technology with optical character recognition helps you find what you’re looking for more quickly — whether you’re searching handwritten notes, text in pictures, or spoken words in audio and video recordings. You can configure Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 or Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 to index Office OneNote 2007 files automatically to incorporate the data into your company’s knowledge base.
  Work together more effectively.Shared notebooks give everyone access to the same information at the same time, online or offline. Office OneNote 2007 manages changes for you so that multiple users can work simultaneously in the same notebook—there’s no need to keep track of versions and changes. With Live Sharing Sessions, geographically dispersed teams can view and edit the same page of notes at the same time.
  Avoid duplicate work.Office OneNote 2007 makes it easy to collect, store, and search information about projects in a central location. Capitalize on ideas, notes, and best practices when briefing new project teams or team members. Take advantage of OneNote archives to avoid duplicate work.
  Organize your way.Organize information in the way that works best for you. See all your open notebooks in a single view, and easily arrange and rearrange your notes with drag-and-drop functionality. You can add hyperlinks to other pages in your notebook so you can quickly find content relevant to the task at hand.
  Prioritize and manage tasks and your to-do list more efficiently.Use note tags to mark and easily track actions and important items. Note tags can be customized according to your needs and quickly viewed in a summary pane. Tasks created in Office OneNote 2007 synchronize with Microsoft Office Outlook tasks so you can manage your projects more efficiently.
  Make meetings more productive.Office OneNote 2007 gives you the flexibility to capture all of the information presented in meetings, including status updates, presentations, documents, typed and handwritten notes, and more. With all meeting notes stored in one location, everyone has access to the same information, helping ensure that all team members are on the same page and that everyone walks away with a consistent set of action items.
  Get up to speed quickly.The familiar look and feel of other Microsoft Office system programs and an intuitive user interface make it easy to get started using Office OneNote 2007 right away. Integration with the 2007 Microsoft Office system means you can share information between Office OneNote 2007 and other Microsoft Office system programs easily.
  Improve productivity away from the office.

Synchronize your Microsoft Windows Mobile–powered devices with Office OneNote 2007 so you can take contents of your notebook with you and view them on your mobile device. In addition, information you capture on your Smartphone or Windows Mobile–based Pocket PC, including photos and text, can be transferred to Office OneNote 2007 and made text-searchable.

With projects, I will typically have emails, Word documents, Excel documents, meeting notes, my brainstorming notes and more.  With OneNote, it looks like I can put all those things in one program without printing the stuff out.

I’ll try to update you in a few weeks to see how it is going.


I loved reading “The Shack”

February 28, 2009

 I have always found it difficult to be trendy.  I’m typically a few steps behind my “hip friends.”  As a perpetual student, I rarely get to read for fun. Thankfully a two-month window opened in my doctoral program when I would not have a class!  I immediately began thinking “what to read, what to read…” 

Twilight was a possibility, but I’m not a teenage girl and I’m not too fond of vampires.  I started to re-read Getting Things Done but that just stressed me out.  (Did I mention that I suffer from insomnia and I read at night before bed? GTD made me think too much.)  I started to read a classic The Journey to the East by Hesse, but it was kind of boring.  OK now to the review:

The Shack by Wm. Paul Young is an allegory (or symbolic narrative) focusing on a man who is struggling with life and faith after a horrible tragedy.  Through a series of events he meets God and spends time working through the deepest and darkest parts of his heart.

Since none of us have seen God, it is always strange when a picture of God is given that is outside our schema. The Shack has taken some flack for this by having characters represent the Trinity that are not common to most.  This should not surprise us, though.  Anthropomorphism is nothing new.  All throughout the Bible, God has helped us understand who He is using human descriptions when we know God is actually a Spirit (John 4:24). The Bible refers to God’s eyes, head, ear, hand, and more.  He even describes Himself using animals like a lion, leopard, bear, eagle, and more. Nothing new… we are limited by our humanness, therefore we cannot understand God.

The steps Mack went through during his weekend with God remind me of The Walk to Emmaus.  Each step is important and lace with symbolism.  Almost as important as the step is the fact that you don’t know where your next step will take you.  This is key to our faith.

Theology: Of course there will always be critics.  I chose not to read them before I read the book for myself.  Some people just don’t like anything!  As an educated Christian, I am will and able to debate theology when needed.  I do not agree with everything Mr. Young wrote. But then again, I haven’t found one preacher that I agree with ALL the time.  Even my dad and I disagree on some important issues and we’ve been serving together in the same church for a long, long time.  Unless you only read what you write yourself, you won’t find a writer that you agree with all the time. 🙂 

Life application: This book is one of the few, aside from the Bible, that can truly help someone through a tragedy. Like Yancey’s Disappointment with God & Where is God When It Hurts? I don’t believe The Shack would be the best instrument of healing for someone who is in the midst of their “great sadness” or most horrible experience of his or her life.  Books like this (and theological truths for that matter) need to be read and learned BEFORE the tragedy so it is in our “tool belt.”  I may be wrong.  Since I am not in a “valley” at this time in my life, I do not know how I would have experienced it.  Knowing me, I would have politely thanked the person who gave me the book, then placed it on the shelf.

Some great quotes from The Shack :

 “Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions. Most emotions are responses to perception – what you think is true about a given situation. If your perception is false, then your emotional response to it will be false too. So check your perceptions, and beyond that check the truthfulness of your paradigms – what you believe.” (p. 197)

“Mackenzie, the Truth shall set you free and the Truth has a name; he’s over in the woodshop right now covered in sawdust. Everything is about him. And freedom is a process that happens inside a relationship with him. Then all that stuff you feel churnin’ around inside will start to work its way out.” (p. 95)

“It’s simple Mack. It’s all about relationships and simply sharing life. What we are doing now – just doing this – and being open and available to others around us. My ‘church’ is all about people and life is all about relationships. You can’t build it. It’s my job and I’m actually pretty good at it.” (p. 178)

“Honey, there’s no easy answer that will take your pain away. Believe me, if I had one, I’d use it now. I have no magic wand to wave over you and make it all better. Life takes a bit of time and a lot of relationship.” (p. 92)

“I am not asking you to believe in anything, but I will tell you that you’re going to find this day a lot easier if you accept what is, instead of trying to fit it into your preconceived notions.” (p. 119)

“‘This always works better when we do it together, don’t you think?’ Jesus asked, smilling.” (p. 176)

Praying in Jesus’ Name

January 6, 2009

A few weeks ago, it was announced that Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddle Back Church, will pray the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration. This caused quite a stir among those on the far left and the far right. Many have called Warren “America’s Pastor.” He is the best selling author of The Purpose Driven Life and moderated the first debate between Obama and McCain. obama_warren

From what I know about Rick Warren, he seems to be an honorable man who loves God and loves people. He and I do not agree on every issue, but then again, I don’t agree with myself on every issue! J His questions during the Saddle Back forum helped many conservatives understand that McCain was a pro-life candidate. Before then, many McCain voters were voting against Obama. After that forum many said they were now voting for McCain.

Regarding the prayer at Obama’s inauguration, many are wondering if Warren will pray “in Jesus’ name.” Prayers to “God” are seen as less offensive because individuals can focus their prayers to whatever God they choose. But many oppose a public prayer “in Jesus’ name.” Legally, Christians are able to pray in the name of Christ- people can pray to whomever they want. Mr. Obama is a Christian and it makes sense to have a Christian minister pray a Christian prayer at his inauguration.

Does it matter? I say “Yes.” If the man referred to as “America’s Pastor” is too politically correct to pray the way he normally prays, then it is a big deal. What is more politically correct? To pray a generic prayer or to recognize Pastor Warren’s First Amendment right to pray? In a land of equality, it should not be offensive for a person to pray however he or she wants to. If our political leaders want to ask leaders of other religions to pray, that is fine with me. I would expect them to address their God also.

My advice to Pastor Warren: let everyone know that you pray “in Jesus’ name” and you plan to during the inauguration. That way people won’t be holding their breath wondering what you are going to do. If people protest, that is fine. You will be respected because you exercised your rights as protected under the constitution. I think this is the ethical thing to do.

Bailout Comparison

December 5, 2008

Google ‘Bible’ Trends

November 21, 2008

Not sure what to do with this, but I find it very interesting. This graph shows the trend in hits on Google’s search engine for the word ‘bible’. It shows a distinct and consistent downward trend over the past 5 years.

A declining interest in the Bible? What do you think? 

List of Top Ten Irritating Phrases

November 7, 2008

As an educator, editor, and pastor, I know using correct words can make an enormous difference in what you are trying to communicate. The researchers at Oxford University recently compiled a list of the top ten irritating phrases.  I want to share it with you.  If you have any phrases (PG rated) that you would like to add, please feel free to comment to my blog.

Oxford compiles list of top ten irritating phrases

A top 10 of irritating expressions has been compiled by researchers at Oxford University

By Charlotte Bailey

Heading the list was the expression ‘at the end of the day’, which was followed in second place by the phrase ‘fairly unique’.

The tautological statement “I personally” made third place – an expression that BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphreys has described as “the linguistic equivalent of having chips with rice.”

Also making the top 10 is the grammatically incorrect “shouldn’t of”, instead of “shouldn’t have”.

damp-squid_1109327aThe phrases appear in a book called Damp Squid, named after the mistake of confusing a squid with a squib, a type of firework.

The researchers who compiled the list monitor the use of phrases in a database called the Oxford University Corpus, which comprises books, papers, magazines, broadcast, the internet and other sources.

The database alerts them to new words and phrases and can tell them which expressions are disappearing. It also shows how words are being misused.

As well as the above expressions, the book’s author Jeremy Butterfield says that many annoyingly over-used expressions actually began as office lingo, such as 24/7 and “synergy”.


Other phrases to irritate people are “literally” and “ironically”, when they are used out of context.

Mr Butterfield said: “We grow tired of anything that is repeated too often – an anecdote, a joke, a mannerism – and the same seems to happen with some language.”

The top ten most irritating phrases:

1 – At the end of the day

2 – Fairly unique

3 – I personally

4 – At this moment in time

5 – With all due respect

6 – Absolutely

7 – It’s a nightmare

8 – Shouldn’t of

9 – 24/7

10 – It’s not rocket science

Praying for Our President

November 4, 2008


Americans have just exercised our right to vote for the candidates of our choice.  We now have a new President and Vice President.  We have elected a new Congress, as well as many state and local leaders.

How should Christians respond?

1 Timothy 2:1-3 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior” (NIV).

The Bible clearly teaches us to pray for our leaders.  As Christians, it is our duty to lift up and encourage our President.  Daniel 2:21 teaches us that God is in control. He changes the times and the seasons and places and removes leaders.

Let us dedicate ourselves to pray for our community and spiritual leaders every day!

God is good all the time. All the time, God is good!

Many blessings…

Rev. C. Adam Clagg