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The Internet Saved Me Time and Money
By Lana Fletcher

"Lana, you need to get hooked up to the Internet," a friend informed me. "I am having so much fun spending hours researching all kinds of topics."

I don't remember what I said out loud, but my attitude was whiny. Why would I want something that takes up more hours of my time? And I must be dull, because I couldn't think of anything to research.

Later, another friend said, "I am having so much fun going to garage sales and buying things to auction off on eBay. You should get on the Internet! You'd have lots of fun buying and selling."

Again, I don't know what excuse I gave her, but my attitude was resistance. I thought, "I hate shopping so don't tell me what I'd have fun doing."

But as often happens, in my devotional time God reminded me that I hadn't asked His advice. So I prayed, "God You know I don't like to waste time or money. You also know I don't like to be told what I will have fun doing. But if You think the internet is a good idea for me, You know You'll have to send the people to help me. You know I'm not a do-it-myselfer."

And people began showing up. My brother-in-law and sister stayed with us for a month while they were waiting to re-locate. He just happens to be a computer engineer and, because he's not a pushy person, I felt comfortable 'asking' him to help me buy a modem and get it hooked up.

Next I met Mark at our local Internet company. He set me up with email and Internet access, and has solved various challenges Ė like when my neighborís electric fence interfered with my connection.

The third source of help God provided came from the classes that were available in the community.

Both the Library and our local Internet company offered free beginners' email and Internet classes. I took them both and each time my brain picked up a few more tricks.

The Community College also offered Internet classes, for a small fee, and I found the teachers to be very patient, as well as excited to be able to help yet another person become comfortable with the Internet.

My fellow classmates didn't know what they were doing either, so we all had fun and felt comfortable asking any Ďdumbí question.

Now I enjoy zipping quick letters and stories back and forth to friends by email.

I get several newsletters Ė a professional one that I print out for my husband since he isn't into computers, one for bereaved parents, and one with tips for writers.

Email is also great for getting announcements to our church newsletter in time to meet the deadline.

I buy books and vitamins on the Internet for less money, even with the shipping cost.

I even researched a historical story when I needed one for a speech at Toastmasters.

Iím getting quite a list of bookmarks or favorites, which send me immediately to the sites I use regularly.

Recently my husband wanted to go to a seminar in a small town that we had no idea where to find. It was so small that a regular map didnít show it. However, an Internet map showed us where it was and gave detailed directions, including how long it took to drive to the exact address from our house. I felt so useful; not a waste of time at all.

My church has several sites, including an online Bible.

If I forget to send a birthday card via snail mail, I can send one that day via the Internet and be on time.

I can find out what's happening at the Science Center and Imax, and then order tickets through the ticket Webmaster. At the library site Iím able to order books, and an email from them will let me know when the book is ready to be picked up.

I go to the Grammar Lady site for help with my proofreading, and I print out the writers' guidelines for various magazines that I want to send articles to. Then thereís FaithWriters Ė I couldnít have become involved with that site if I had never taken the plunge and gotten "hooked up".

I feel so efficient when I use the on-line gift registries at stores like The Bon Marche and Target, for weddings and baby showers. I can look at their wish lists and have something mailed direct, or if I plan to pick it up, see exactly which aisle to find it on.

Iíve had to admit that rather than waste time and money, the Internet has helped me to save both.

Iím not a risk taker, so I didnít jump into the computer and Internet world with both feet. My experience has been more like sticking one toe in to test the water, while teachers held my hands to keep my balance.

Now sometimes Iím being asked to be a teacher to others too.
Lana Fletcher lives in Chehalis WA with her husband. They have one adult daughter. Their younger daughter was killed in a car accident. She is the church clerk, has attended Toastmasters for several years, and enjoys making Creative Memories albums, gardening and writing.
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