Tag Archives: technology

Where there is injury, pardon

God-vulnerability-forgiveness

My pastor gave me a copy of the Prayer of St. Francis when I went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Advent, and I have been praying it every day since. The words that jump out at me almost every day are: Where there is injury, pardon.

Why those words? I ask God, and what does injury mean?

I usually think of injuries as resulting from accidents—wounds that need stitches, casts or surgeries. But what kind of injuries need pardon? In St. Francis’ day the word probably had a different connotation.

As I pray these words every day, I ponder injuries. I tried replacing the word injury with other words to see if it makes more sense to me—sin, hurt, harm, betrayal, etc.—what would warrant pardon?

And is pardon synonymous with forgiveness?

Perhaps it was this prayer that predisposed me to ponder forgiveness this Lent.

I struggle with forgiveness for several reasons, and perhaps the biggest is my fear of looking foolish. I can hear my father’s voice in my head discouraging me from being taken advantage of and encouraging me to stand my ground. It was important to him not to look weak and he was slow to forgive those who had crossed him. To him, forgiving equaled vulnerability and weakness.

Vulnerability was not something he valued.

It took me a long time—and a fair amount of prodding by God—to consider vulnerability as something valuable, something desirable.

I once befriended a women who had committed a horrific crime. She was vilified and hated in our community. The newspapers and television media portrayed her as a monster.

But God placed her on my heart, and I could not stop thinking about her—and feeling compassion for her. It was as if God was showing me how God saw her—not the monster she was portrayed in the news, but as a person who, no matter what she had done, was still a child of God.

Not many people knew about my visits to her in prison or of our friendship. Sometimes, the things God asks of me seem outrageous even to me.

This particular friendship has been resurfacing this Lent. She was a woman who needed pardon, forgiveness and acceptance.

Perhaps she has been coming to mind because of all the mass shootings in our country. My friend had a history of mental illness and a record of multiple hospitalizations related to her mental illness. Yet she was able to walk into a store and buy a gun. No questions asked. No thought to why she wanted a gun or what she might do with it. No concerns that she would walk into the mall and open fire.

Or perhaps she has been coming to mind because she taught me so much about vulnerability and forgiveness.

I suppose God has been nudging me toward acknowledging my vulnerability for a long time, teaching me that embracing my own vulnerability puts me on the path to pardon.

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God-cancer-hope

Why words matter

The last thing you say to someone might be the last thing you say to him. These words came to me as a memory from the day my friend Jim had a seizure which left him unconscious. That day ended with a diagnosis of a very, very aggressive, non-curable brain cancer.

In the midst of being told that Jim may never regain consciousness, I wondered, “What was the last thing I said to him?”

Fortunately, I had spoken to him shortly before the seizure and my words were positive.

I know, though, that I don’t end every conversation, every interaction on a positive note. Sometimes I speak out of frustration or anger. Other times, I am distracted or tired or…God-cancer-hopeThat question, though, from the day Jim had a seizure has stayed with me and is a reminder to try to end every conversation on a positive note. That is particularly significant because I work at a cancer support center.

One of the women who came to the center for a couple of years had not been around for a while. Phone calls and messages went unanswered. We knew she had stopped treatment and began to wonder if she was still alive.

Sometimes families don’t notify us for weeks or even months, so we often live in a kind of limbo. But, we learned of this woman’s death within a few days after she had died.

Remembering this particular woman, I wondered what had been my last words to her. I hope they were something that let her know that I was glad to see her and that I cared about her. I hope she felt accepted, consoled and even uplifted.

She had been very realistic about the path she had chosen. She knew that without treatment, the cancer would end her life. But, I don’t think she knew that the last time she came to our center would be the last time. I did not know that the last words I said to her were the last words I would ever say to her.

Some days, I am overwhelmed by the sadness of my work. People learning they have cancer, enduring treatment, anxious for results from scans, some of them dying—it can be so sad.

Other days, though, I am overjoyed by the good news of my work. People learning that the cancer is in remission or that they are cancer-free, optimistic that life holds promise, hopeful for a future they once feared would never come.

Balancing these emotions, this ups and downs of cancer and its many ripple effects, can be difficult for me. God invites me to hold both the joys and sorrows.

I am reminded of St. Paul’s words: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation….I can do all things through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13)

Strengthen me, Lord.

ann-arbor-give-camp

Three days to a new website

I’ve heard that learning something new is a great way to keep one’s brain sharp. If that is true, my brain is in great shape this week, because last weekend, I did something I never could have imagined—I helped build a new website for the nonprofit where I work.

I am actually fairly comfortable with computers because I believe that any mistakes I might make can be undone by someone who understands the technology. With this foundational belief, I can be a happy clicker.

When I wanted to start a blog, I chose a simple template and just started writing and posting.

But a website? That seems so much more complicated.

The website at my work was outdated and difficult to navigate. People frequently complained to me about it. But new websites can be very expensive.

Then I heard about Give Camp—a national organization that brings together IT professionals and nonprofits to improve the nonprofits’ technology. Our local Give Camp is in Ann Arbor.

I applied for a new website, and we were one of four nonprofits selected.

Give Camp is based on a sweat-equity model where the nonprofit commits to be present and be part of the process. The goal is that by participating in the building process, the nonprofit personnel will become adept at updating the website so it can stay current.

We gathered at Washtenaw County Community college on Friday afternoon—about 35 people in all—and I met The Lake House team: Brian (aka “Korz”) was our team leader and a software developer; Joel, Jan and the other Brian were our coders; and Sarah was our marketing expert.

I explained our needs—nothing elaborate, just an easy-to-navigate website.

On Friday night, we decided on a WordPress template, which Give Camp purchased for us. Then we went to work. The team imported pages from our old website on Friday night, and all day Saturday, we worked on updating content and improving layout. The coders created forms and links, and the marketing person made it all beautiful.

At a WordPress tutorial on Saturday afternoon, I learned about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and new terms like entrepreninja and solopreneur. Throughout the weekend, we used an on-line bulletin board system, which helped us keep track of what needed to be done and what had been completed.

It was three days of learning new terms and processes and the opportunity to practice what I was learning.

By Sunday at 2:00 p.m., our new website went live; check it out at www.milakehouse.org.

I am grateful to Ann Arbor Give Camp, to our team and also to the sponsors of this event.

At the closing ceremony, the nonprofit representatives expressed our gratitude to our teams, and Jay, the Give Camp leader, thanked the nonprofits for the work we do every day.

Throughout my nonprofit career, I have been blessed by opportunities to collaborate with the for-profit world. Give Camp is a wonderful example of how we can work together for good.