Saturday, December 20, 2008

Is Anyone Else . . . ?

Is anyone else as obsessive as I am about making sure to get every last drop of lotion, soap, toothpaste, whatever from a bottle that is nearly empty? I have a cabinet full of nearly empty lotion bottles because there is still lotion left at the bottom but the pump will not suck it up anymore. Eventually I will work on combining all the bottles (really there are only about four of them right now), but for now they are just sitting there . . . waiting . . . hoping to one day be completely empty and placed in the recycle bin.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Getting the Whole Story

Earlier today as I was listening to the radio, they were talking about the following story . The story is about a pilot (with 30 years flight experience) of a passenger plane who told the passengers that he was not qualified to land the plane because there was heavy fog in Paris, so he turned the plane and went back to the original destination. When the radio news person reported on the story, he said that the pilot told the passengers that he could not land the plane. The DJ's then began criticizing the pilot. Having had read about the story yesterday, I was frustrated that this pilot was being criticized when he did exactly what he was supposed to do. It was not that he could not land the plane due to lack of flying experience, but that he was flying a new plane and had not been trained to land it in adverse conditions. Why couldn't the news person explain the whole story? Surely he read the entire new release and not someone else's explanation of it.

That makes me think about how often we do the same. How often do we quickly judge a circumstance without getting the whole story? I know that I often do it with my students. If a student does not come to class or turn in his or her work, I assume that he or she just doesn't care about his or her school work. At times this is the case, other times there is more to the story. I am working on not being too quick to judge or make assumptions, but I'm also not the type of person who likes to pry into other people's problems.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Need to Be Thankful

I'm finding myself a little too tempted to complain about some of my students (I'm in the middle of grading research papers), so that means I need to take the time to find a reason to be thankful. I'm very thankful that I have a job that I enjoy. Overall this fall semester has been a pretty good one. Since I have carpooled with two others, I have been staying on campus a little longer during the day. That means that I can do more grading at school and I have not felt the need to do much grading at home. This semester I have also learned to use my time more productively and get the grading done in a more timely manner. Over the past two days I have managed to grade 20 of the 52 research papers turned in by my Comp students. I don't expect to have any problems completing all my grading this week and next in a timely manner. Next week is finals and then I will have three weeks off before having to return to Hutch. I look forward to being thankful for a little more sleep ; )

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Finally Finished

For about the last year, I have been working on a baby quilt for some dear friends who finally had their first baby this last summer. Even though my mom helped me with the cross-stitching, it still took me longer than it really should have to finish. At least I finished it before the baby turned six months old :o)

Here is the quilt. We put it together yesterday. The process started off well, but then we had a series of mishaps. Suffice it to say that one should always make sure that she measures carefully instead of assuming she knows the width of the quilt face.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I just read a story about a man who left his cell phone at a McDonald's and this cell phone had naked pictures of his wife on it. Apparently someone got a hold of his phone and uploaded the pictures on the internet. According to the story, the employees at McDonald's said that they would secure his phone until he arrived, so, since the phone was not secure enough, he is suing McDonald's, the franchise owner, and the store manager for 3 million dollars. The story does not say if the man knows who uploaded the pictures.

My first question to this man would be, if you are foolish enough to keep naked pictures of your wife on your cell phone, then what do you expect? One would think that the man would make sure he always has his cell phone with him. I do not think that he has a legitimate lawsuit. Perhaps McDonald's should receive a hand slap for not properly securing the phone after they said they would, but who knows, the pictures may have been uploaded before the man called the store. Hopefully he and others who hear about the story will learn that one has to be careful in all areas of one's life because one never knows what could happen with that material.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Being Thankful

My mother-in-law used to have a Thankful Thursday post, and I was thinking that I would do the same. I have had a difficult time lately thinking about what to post because I don't want my blog to become a forum of complaints. So, on to being thankful.

After having come from a good workout at the Y, I would have to say that I am thankful that I am healthy and have the use of my various limbs. I do not have a family history of health problems, so I don't expect many problems in the future. Also, I do not have to take medicine on a regular basis because my blood pressure, cholesterol, and other levels look good. Right now I am a little sore because I am asking my muscles to behave in ways they are not used to behaving, but at least I can still use them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dr. Conard?

My Comp students are currently working on their research projects. As part of the process this year, I have been completing the work on my own along with my students. Unlike my students, I have really enjoyed the process. It made me realize how much I miss being a student. Now that I have had the opportunity to teach full time for four years, I would like to go back and see how my learning skills have improved.

The problem is time and location. If I want to pursue a doctorate, the closest schools are KU, OU, or OSU. There is a program at Baylor that I would be the most interested in, but for any of these schools, pursuing a doctorate would require moving away for a couple of years at least. It would give me more options when it comes to looking for teaching jobs, but I also know that I have it pretty good at Hutch. Likewise, I know that God has me there for a reason. The process went so smoothly for me to get the job that I have that I do not want to neglect what God is calling me to do.

I ask myself the question about pursuing a doctorate in English at least once or twice a semester. Sometimes I wonder if that is why we do not have children yet. What to do? What to do?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

First Session

I had my first meeting with my personal trainer today. He seems like a very nice person and I do not think that I will have any problems working with him. I'm looking forward to having a more structured workout plan. I'm an organizer, so my disorganization in this area of my life is frustrating.

Next week I am going to be measured and tested so I can have a baseline to measure my progress. That means I have one week to make some changes so my numbers will look a little better ;o)' Why is it that when we hire someone to specifically help us with an area of our life, we try to make ourselves look better than we are. Sort of like hiring a maid but cleaning house before she (or he) comes to clean.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

No Worries

As I was reviewing my verses this morning and as I prepare to go vote, these two passages really stuck out to me as a reminder of who is really in control today and every day.

Psalm 66
1 Samuel 2:1-10

Sunday, November 2, 2008

4th Photo

This is a Shelby Series One that was on display at the Imperial Palace Hotel in Las Vegas. This hotel had a huge car collection that was free for people staying at the hotel.

This was our second trip to Vegas. We went during the month of June 2004. It was right after I had graduated with my Master's in English and my youngest sister had graduated with her Bachelor's in Anthropology. Since Matt and I really are not into gambling (I will play the slot machines occasionally), we decided to spend more time seeing the sights. There are quite a few cultural opportunities in Vegas. We went to a Monet exhibit at the Bellagio, and my mom paid for us to go and see the Blue Man Group (Matt was even part of the act).

We're not all the excited to go again. I think that we have had enough of Vegas to satisfy our curiosity for a very long time.

I will tag my sister, Krista.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Taking the Plunge

I've finally decided to meet with a personal trainer at the Y. I enjoy working out, but I know that I can work out more effectively. Here lately, I usually go in and complete the same exercises each time and its getting boring. I talked to the personal trainer coordinator today and a trainer is supposed to contact me in the next couple of days, so hopefully I will begin next week. This is not my favorite type of situation. I enjoy trying new activities, but I usually feel better about doing them if I am with someone else. I hope that the personal trainer is an outgoing person so that the conversation will not become stilted.

My goal is to get stronger physically and try to tone up and lose some weight. Of course, to lose weight, I also need to show more discipline in the way I eat. It frustrates me that I can have good self-discipline in certain areas of my life, but eating is not one of them. I definitely need some accountability in this area, but I do not want to pay to go to Weight Watchers in order to get this accountability. Likewise, my husband is not the best choice because I do not want to get mad at him when he asks me how I am doing (besides, I don't think he would do it anyway for the exact same reason ;o)

Is there anyone else out there who would be interested to being accountability partners on this issue? Knowing that I could encourage someone else struggling with this same issue would be much easier than doing so with a stranger.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Give Me Your Eyes"

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten

These words come from one of my favorite songs on the radio today. What a reminder that we need to look at the world through God's eyes and not our own.

Our pastor has been preaching from the book of John, and for the last four weeks or so, the focus has been on Jesus's interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well. Today, he talked about how Jesus had a hunger for the people and to do God's will but the disciples did not. The disciples could not see beyond their own concerns to see the needs of the people.

Chuck suggested that we ask God to increase our appetite to do His will. Since hearing this song and Chuck's message, this will definitely be a prayer of mine.

If you want to hear Chuck Wilson's message, you can find it at Click on Listen (the message should be available later this week).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What would it be like?

As I sit here watching the movie Enchanted, I wonder what it would be like to live in a fairy tale world (or at least the Disney version). Wouldn't it be nice if every once in a while everyone burst out in the same song and danced together with perfect choreography? Perhaps that would solve many of the problems facing the world today.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Swollen Expectations

My Comp classes are reading an essay entitled "Swollen Expectations." In summary, the essay compares 1950s America with the turn-of-the-century America. The authors compare houses, cars, vacations, food, and innovations like televisions. Part of their argument is that our society is suffering from affluenza. We are constantly wanting items that are bigger and better, not because we need bigger items, but because society's expectations have grown to the point where bigger is the norm.

This essay made me think about my expectations for the way I live. I know that there are many items I would like to own or have that are simply a desire created out of swollen expectations: newer, nicer furniture; more clothes; a nicer yard; exotic vacations; etc. Then today, one of my coworkers reminded me of how fleeting the items on earth are and why we can only rely on God. She is acquainted with a couple who lived in Galveston, TX and was affected by the latest hurricane. This couple was lucky in that their house only has a foot of water in it, but it might be a year before they can move back into their house. A restoration company has told them that they might be able to salvage some of their furniture and other possessions. Since flooding caused the damage, there is a possibility that their possessions will not be covered by their insurance company. They both also worked on the island, so they have been without jobs since the hurricane struck. Apparently they have just found out that the will no longer be receiving money from their former jobs in the middle of November.

It only takes an instant for all that we own to be destroyed. As my coworker was telling me about this couple, my first thought was why would anyone want to spend a significant amount of money on furniture when the possibility exists that it can all be destroyed in a fire, tornado, flood. It would be easier to deal with these types of losses if the possessions we had did not have any real significant value to us. I bet this is why God tells us not to worry about these issues and not to pursue worldly goods. I'm not trying to say that we shouldn't have nice possessions, but this couple's story has made me reevaluate my priorities. It would be much better to invest my money in God's kingdom rather than in newer furniture for my house.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Why Am I Watching Survivor?

Good question. Why am I sitting here watching Survivor? I have not really followed this show since the first season, but every once in a while I will watch an episode. The show is a fascinating study in human behavior. I realize that the editing of the show manipulates what the viewer learns about the various contestants, but even the snippets that we are shown gives us a glimpse of how people behave in different circumstances.

As we watched the show tonight, I began to wonder how the lives of the contestants have changed as a result of being on the show. Are they more outgoing? Are they more confident? Are they more willing to try new activities, new foods, new adventures? Would I change if I were ever on a show like Survivor? I don't know that I would want to be on Survivor. I would rather be on The Amazing Race. I prefer shows where people eliminate themselves instead of being eliminated as a result of a popularity contest. I would also love to be able to travel around the world. Of course, I would probably be one of the women who tend to freak out when situations get stressful or if a challenge is a little too tough. They would probably be able to record a lot of tears.

If you were given the opportunity to be on a reality television show, what show would you want to be on?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Take a Sick Day??

I'm definitely the sort of person who takes a sick day as a last resort. I've done a little better since I started working at HCC about staying home when I am sick because I have a forty-five minute drive back home from HCC if I do not feel well. Growing up in a family where being sick did not gain one extra attention, I am used to the concept of toughing it out and moving on with life. At times I think I do so because I feel life may stop if I am not present, but other times I think it is because I don't think that I am in that bad of shape.

I did go to work today, but my students did work in the computer lab so I did not have to speak much. For the most part, I feel fine; I just cannot talk very well and my head is still congested. After an hours worth of attempts, I finally got a hold of my doctor's office and made an appointment for tomorrow morning. At least then I will know for sure if I have a sinus infection or if I am just battling a tough virus.

Now, I have to decide if I am going to go to HCC in the afternoon. The student group I am one of the advisors for is having their induction ceremony tomorrow night. I know that the show can go on just fine without me, but what if it doesn't?? ;)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Prayer Request

I seem to have come down with a sinus virus or sinus infection and it has left my voice pretty weak. I'm not the best about knowing when to stay home and when to go to the doctor for these issues. Additionally, this is not the best week to be sick (not that any week is especially good). Please pray for wisdom to know if and when I should go to the doctor and for quick healing. Pray also for wisdom what I should do with my classes if I do need to stay home.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What to do about Halloween?

I recently read a friend's blog in which she discuss why she believes Christians should not participate in Halloween festivities in any form or fashion. Her blog got me to thinking about this issue. Personally, I have never gone overboard for Halloween, but we have handed out candy and helped out at events at our church. If we had children, I would probably allow them to dress up in costume and do a little trick or treating.

All this being said, what should a Christian do about Halloween? Are we worshiping Satan if we pass out candy or dress up in a costume? My opinion is that we are not. As I was growing up, it never crossed my mind that it was a Satanic holiday. For me, it was a day to play dress-up and get candy. When I think about this issue, I am reminded that at Christmas plenty of people participate in the holiday who do not worship God as part of the day. The same is true for Easter. Halloween, for most people, is just an activity, like Christmas and Easter.

Ironically, Halloween has its origin as a time of thanksgiving for the fall harvest. Out of fear and misunderstanding, the people dressed up and carved jack-o-lanterns to protect themselves from evil spirits. Their purpose was not to celebrate death, but rather to protect themselves because they did not know God.

I do agree with my friend that the stores are filled with too many items for Halloween. The money that people can spend decorating their homes for Halloween is obscene. Commercialism knows no bounds. Give the retailers a holiday, and they will come up with a way to make people spend money on it.

This Halloween we are going to work at a Trunk or Treat event with our church. This event is designed to reach out to non-Christians and show them that we are approachable. We want to create a fun environment where we can meet non-Christians and perhaps have them feel comfortable enough to come and check out our church where they will hear the word of God. I don't feel we are compromising our faith by participating in this event.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How Great Is Our God!

Isaiah 40:11
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:26
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

Isaiah 40:28-31
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Second Choice

The other day, my sister had on her Facebook status that she felt like she was everyone's second choice. Today, I was making the same statement to Matt. Matt does not make me feel like a second choice, but there often times when situations with others leave me with this feeling. It wouldn't surprise me to find out the most people feel like they are the second choice. Of course, only we can decide how we are going to respond to the situations in life, and if we respond with feeling like we are the second choice, then we will have to learn to deal with that feeling.

Thankfully, we are always God's first choice. I am in the process of memorizing the letter to the Ephesians. In the first chapter, Paul encourages the Ephesians by telling them how special they are in God's eyes. God chose us. We were predestined according to His plan. God has called us to hope, to the riches of His inheritance, and to His incomparable power. God will never let us down. He will never be too busy. He will never make other plans. He calls us to become part of the body of Christ. No room for second choices exists in God's kingdom. We will all be His first choice. Praise God that He is big enough and powerful enough to meet the needs of every person on this planet.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Right to Fail?

“One of the few rights that America does not proclaim is the right to fail”

This is one of the other statements that stood out to me in the essay. As we discussed this idea in class, most of the students agreed that this statement is true. Today, most children play on little league sports teams where the score is not kept and there is not a proclaimed winner (even though the older kids know how to keep score and they do know who won). Matt's little brother Taylor plays on a 8-9-year-old kid pitch team, and they still did not keep score, but I am certain that the kids on each team knew who won and who did not. While I agree with this concept for young children (ages 4-5) because the goal is to teach the children the fundamentals of the sport, I do not agree with this trend for ages 6 and up. One way to learn good sportsmanship is to lose every once in a while. Unless my memory fails me, when I played softball as a 7-year-old, we had an official score at the end of the game and we knew if we had won or lost. I do not remember being traumatized by the fact that we did not win the game. As a student pointed out, once the game is over, the kids are more interested in the snacks being offered than the outcome of the game.

I can understand why we are so afraid of failure, but this fear of failure leads us not to take chances. I, personally, am not a big fan of failing, but I also realize that sometimes I need to fail in order to learn. That is the key element that is missing in our society. We spend too much time trying to blame someone or some group when a situation goes bad (Katrina is a good example) instead of focusing on what can be learned from the failure. The government took a chance letting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offer mortgages to people who are a credit risk and we are seeing the negative results of that decision. I hope that instead of wasting time figuring out who is truly to blame, I would like to see more energy put into coming up with ways to correct the situation and to keep it from happening again.

Even as Christians we are afraid to fail. We develop unrealistic expectations of what God expects us to do. We compare our selves to other Christians and decide that there is no way we will measure up, so we don't even try. Instead of asking and trusting that God will work through us in the way He has planned, we decide on our own what God wants us to do. Often our interpretation of God's plan is way off of His. Sometimes we overachieve, but many time we underachieve because we are afraid that we will fail. I know that I need to be less fearful of failure because I can never fail in God's eyes. I will always be His child and nothing I do can change that.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Colorless Mediocrity

In my comp classes this week, we discussed an essay entitled “College Pressures” written by William Zinsser. One statement, of many, that stood out to me was “Not taking chances will lead to a life of colorless mediocrity.” Taking chances does not come easy for most people; I know that I am one who does not like to take chances because I am afraid of looking foolish (another statement that I liked was, “One of the few rights that America does not proclaim is the right to fail”). I began to think of times that I have decided to go ahead and take a chance. The biggest chance that I have taken in recent years was going graduate school. If I had not listened to my professors and taken a chance, I never would have ended up in a job that is anything but mediocre. I would have likely continued to work at data entry jobs where the pay is okay, but there is not much of a mental challenge. I told my students this story to encourage them to take chances.

I’m curious to know what chances you have taken or chances that you wish you had taken.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Cost

This weekend at a conference I attended with the college groups I am an adviser for, we watched a clip from the movie Ironed Jawed Angels. The movie covers the women's suffrage movement of the early 1900's. I never knew all the trouble the women encountered trying to gain for all women the right to vote. They were beaten, imprisoned, and faced all types of ridicule. These women were successful and we now have the right to vote. I have put the movie on my Netflix list so I can see the entire movie.

This movie made me think about all the rights that we enjoy that we take for granted. Many of us take for granted the right to vote. The women suffrage movement and the whole civil rights movement experienced much difficulty giving us the right to vote, yet many of us do not give it a second thought to not voting at all. I also thought about the way we take for granted the choice we can make to attend church or not. Many people view going to church as a drudgery. I have often heard born again Christians complain about attending church or express relief or joy over the fact that they do not need to attend on a specific Sunday. How many of us think about the fact that many people died for this choice we have? Do we think about the reason why we can make the choice to attend church or not? Do we appreciate that we can make the choice for which church to attend? Why don't we rejoice over the fact that we can meet together at all since so many people do not have this freedom?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Great Expectations (part two)

Okay, so yesterday's post was pretty deep, so I thought that I would follow it with a more upbeat post. When our pastor mentioned that Jesus will exceed our expectations, I can definitely see examples of that in my life. Number one would be my wonderful husband. We have been married for nearly fourteen years and I wouldn't trade a single day.

Another example is my current job. When I decided to return to school in the fall of 2000 to complete a degree in English simply because I liked to read, I never would have dreamed that I would end up becoming a college English instructor. That job possibility never entered my mind until some of my college professors suggested that I go to grad school. God, in His perfect wisdom, worked out all the details. I am certain that I am exactly where God wants me to be at this time. Of course, if we had been able to have children 12 years ago, I might not have ever made it to this place or it may have taken me longer to get here.

God has a plan, and I know that typically knowing all the details of His plan is not always for the best. Like Sarah, we might try to force the plan to happen sooner than God intends, or like Rebekah, Isaac, Jacob, and Esau, we might try to trick others into making God's plan happen instead of trusting that His plan will be accomplished. Thankfully, God's plan succeeds regardless of our attempts to help it along or change it to meet our desires. We just need to trust that God will accomplish it all in His perfect timing.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Today at church, our pastor talked about the passage in John where Jesus interacts with the Samaritan woman at the well. He preached on the fact that Jesus will always exceed our expectations and that we should evaluate what we expect God to do and see if there is a core issue in our lives that God is wanting to work on.

As he was preaching, I thought about the fact that there are some issues where I expect God not to do something. One specific area of life where, truthfully, I don't expect God to do something is having children. This may be an unrealistic expectation, but if I am truly honest, that is the way I feel. I think that I feel safe in this expectation because it limits my hopes. It takes away some of the pressure of even trying to have a child. It's not that I don't want to have children, but I often wonder if God intends for us to have children.

I know that my reliance needs to be completely on God and that I will only have value in Him. My value in His eyes is not dependent on whether or not I have children. It would be a little easier, though, if I knew for sure what the future will hold on this issue. Are we supposed to try harder? How are we supposed to proceed? What exactly does God want us to do? In some ways, life would be easier if we could have the answers to our questions. I don't need to know why, I just want to know if.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What's Wrong with this World?

Okay, okay, I know what is wrong with the world, but there are times when I would like to see situations from God's perspective so that I can understand the whole story. Most of you have probably heard about the former American Idol contestant who has come out about his sexual preferences. While I do not agree with this lifestyle, what frustrates me most is the fact that he has a biological child (conceived through in vitro-fertilization). People chose the lifestyle that they want to live. It seems to me that if a woman chooses to be with other women or if a man chooses to be with other men, then they need to live with the fact that they will not be able to have children because it is biologically not possible.

Of course, some of my frustration comes from the fact that we have not been able to have children of our own and no explanation can be given for why not except that it is not part of God's plan. Also, having known a couple who suffered a tremendous loss after undergoing the in vitro procedure, I wonder why God would allow someone like this Idol contestant to have a child. I'm sure the child will be well taken care of unlike children born to abusers, abandoners, drug addicts, and the like, but it still confuses and frustrates me. Like I said earlier, I know that only God can see the bigger picture, so all I can do is trust His sovereignty.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

In an Instant

As I was driving home form Sam's Club this evening, I passed an accident that had happened not long before I arrived. There were at least three cars involved in the accident. One of the cars sat off to the side of the road and a couple of people stood outside of the car. At least I should say, one of the two people was trying to stand. I think that the poor woman was so badly shaken that she seem to be having a difficult time comprehending the situation.

Watching this woman reminded me of how quickly our circumstances can change. One minute we can be driving down the road, and the next the life can change. I experienced this personally last May when I was driving to school. It was the last regular day of the semester and I was thinking about the fact that the Mini was going to roll over 100,000 miles on the way home. The next thing I knew, there was a dog right in front of the car. I hit the dog, successfully pulled the car off to the side of the road, and my day had suddenly changed. Except for the death of the dog and damage to the Mini, no one experienced any injuries. It took just over a month before the Mini's repairs were complete, so the car did not roll 100,000 miles until July.

Earlier this week another more tragic reminder of the fragility of life occurred. One of the advisors for Phi Theta Kappa (a two year honor society for community college students) experienced the loss of her son-in-law in a car accident. These are all great reminders that we need to make the most of every situation. Nothing in life is guaranteed (except our salvation and God's love). We should hug our family and friend's more and make sure we spend our time with them wisely.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Isaiah 32:17-18

The fruit of righteousness will be peace;
the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.

My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
in secure homes,
in undisturbed places of rest.

Why should we live a righteous life? Why should we follow the ways of the Lord? So we can have peace, quietness, confidence. Only in God can we have a peaceful life. This does not mean that we will not experience difficulties, but our foundation will not be shaken. Sometimes I am tempted to look for pleasure in the temptations of the world and to turn my back on righteousness, but these verses remind me of the importance of staying the course. The long term benefits far outweigh the short term pleasures.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Time with the Father

Last night our small group at church had an extended time in prayer. We devoted two 40 minute segments to personal prayer time. I'm always amazed how easy it is to spend time with God in prayer but how difficult it is to actually schedule this time. Whenever the subject of an extended time in prayer comes up, thoughts of all the other responsibilities pressing for my time immediately try to make their presence known. We had had a busy weekend and I kept thinking about how much I would prefer to stay home last night, but I knew that I needed some time in extended prayer.

God is so patient with me (and all of us). Every time I participate in a time of extended prayer (occasionally our church hosts a four hour prayer time), I am amazed at all the items I did not have an opportunity to pray about. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is always interceding for us, praying for all the issues that we forgot about or are unaware of. I am never sorry that I have spent this time talking to God. I strongly encourage all of God's children to set aside some time every once in a while really focusing on Him and giving Him all our worship and adoration.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Words of Encouragement

Isaiah 30:18

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
he rises to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!

I have been reading Isaiah during my morning quiet times, and this verse stood out to me this morning. I found it very encouraging. The Creator of the heavens and the earth and all the dwell within them longs to be gracious to me and to all of us. What a great God we serve! In every circumstance, God's grace and compassion is apparent. I just need to look at the circumstance in the right way. Life is never as bad as it could potentially be. As scary as it is to say, situations can become worse, but thankfully we serve a loving, not vengeful, God who wants to give good gifts to His children.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Today my comp classes were to give a group presentation. Their assignment was to create a poster board presentation that highlighted five innovations in one of five areas of life: home, health, entertainment, education, and work. The students could write about any type of innovation as long as it related to the area of life they selected. Predictably, the students picked common and broad innovations. For example, for home life they picked innovations like electricity, plumbing, HVAC, and television. The presentations themselves were of so-so quality. Out of ten groups, two groups (in the same class) did not even have posterboards to put their details on. One group in the other class had their information written in pencil on lined notebook paper which they ripped (though neatly) to make small enough to fit on the board. The students had a week to work on this presentation. I even gave the students some time in class to work on their presentations, though they did not really take advantage of this time.

While the posterboards themselves varied in quality (a couple of groups did put forth some effort to create an imaginative presentations), their oral presentations were dry and boring. Next week I am going to ask my students to give an honest evaluation of the presentations. I'm sure most of the students will say that they were not all that great. It's amazing how quickly the students are to criticize their instructors when they fail to entertain them, but when they are given the opportunity to give the presentation, they do even worse. It would be one issue if they actually tried to give a creative presentation, but that was not the case.

After my classes I was so frustrated that I did not want to go back to my office and work. I am working on keeping a positive attitude toward my classes this semester, but their behavior really zapped my energy and desire to even plan for their next class. I want my students to learn that they should always give their best, so I am planning to talk to them about their presentations and the problems they contained. Hopefully I can reach through their lackluster attitudes and show them that they will only get out of their education what they choose to put into it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Innovations and You

Innovation: the introduction of something new 2 : a new idea, method, or device (

In my composition classes, I am asking my students to write about three or four recent innovations that they would have a difficult time living without. Of course, they then need to explain why they would have a difficult time living without these items. I'm expecting cell phones to be one of the top innovations with iPods coming in at a close second.

This assignment has prompted me to think about recent innovations that I would have a difficult time living without or that I would prefer to not live without. One innovation would be the keyless entry system most cars now have. I appreciate being able to lock my car door as I approach it instead of having to fumble to get the key into the lock. In the winter it is nice not to have to worry about ice covering the lock, and it is especially nice in the evening when it is dark.

Another innovation would be digital cameras. When I go on a trip, I love to take a number of pictures. When I came back from my first trip to England, I brought back over 20 rolls of film. I hate to miss a single shot. With the digital camera, I can take as many pictures as I want and then I can sort through them and only print the best ones. Digital cameras also make it easier to share photos with others, although one of my newest pet peeves is when a group shot is taken and everyone wants a shot taken with their own cameras. Why can't just one person take the picture and then share it with others? We have a number of family pictures where each person is looking in a different direction because multiple cameras were being used.

In an essay aptly entitled "Innovation," Phil Patton observes, "about the changes that have been most deeply absorbed into the pores of daily routine, we could . . . often say, 'I can't remember how we lived without it.'" I will admit that it does seem like we have had digital cameras and keyless entry for longer than they have actually been around. My trip to England occurred May 2001. Digital cameras existed, but the price was still high, so not many people owned one. We did not have keyless entry until we bought our Sentra in 2001, but it seems like all of our cars have had this feature. I guess that shows the effect of a true innovation.

What innovations would you have a difficult time living without?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Civic Duty

In my Comp I classes, I tried to talk to them about the upcoming elections. My theme for the semester is various trends in society, and our recent discussion lead to trends in the election. In my MWF class, the discussion went well and the students seemed fairly well informed; the same cannot be said for my TR classes. Many of the students admitted that they had no interest, but the majority of them did say that they planned to vote.

Some of the students who said that they did not plan to vote surprised me because they will tell me that they are big supporters of Obama. I wonder how many supporters of Obama, especially young supporters, are like my students. Obama may have the support, but unless those people go vote, the election may not turn out the way they hope it will. Do they think that wishing someone to be president is enough?

When I asked my students why they did not plan to vote or why they were not interested, many of them said that they just did not care or that they found the process boring and confusing. In my second class today, some said that they would be more likely to vote if the drinking age was lowered and if certain illegal substances were made legal. I don't think that they saw the irony of their stance. If they want these changes to take place, then they need to work on voting people into office who will make these changes, but if they choose not to vote, then those who are against these changes and who do vote will control what happens.

It's amazing to think about how much power our vote has. I told my students in my second class today that I think they should raise the voting age. This got them all up in arms, which is also ironic, but the more I think about it, the more I think it would be a good idea. Few eighteen year olds really understand what is involved in living life. They often do not own property, and while they work, they are not making enough money to see the real impact of taxes on their paychecks. They hear the impressive campaing promises and think that life will suddenly become even easier, but they do not think about where the money will come from to fulfill these promises. They do not realize that if taxes are increased, there will be fewer jobs, not more. At least then there will be more welfare programs, so they will be taken care of.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Look at All the Stubborn People

Yesterday I heard on the news that some of the people who live in the Houston area and decided to stay behind and weather the hurricane are complaining about FEMA. In Wichita, people who live in an area of town that is known to flood if the rain is heavy enough are also complaining that the city has not done enough to prevent the floods from happening. In both of these cases, the people received warning. The people made the choice to stay or to live in a certain area, but now they are expecting the government to take care of their problems.

These events remind me of how many of us want to live our own lives according to our own rules despite God's warnings that the best way to live is according to His plan. We stubbornly stick to our old ways and then when circumstance become unpleasant, we complain that God does not care for us, that He has turned his back on us. We expect God to rush right in and make our lives right again. While He is always present and ready to accept our repentance, He will not take away our problems. Sometimes the solution to our problems will come quickly, but other times He will have us wait so we can grow and learn. Like the government's response to natural disasters, He will come and give us the tools we need to get back on the right path, but we need to be open to receiving these tools and following His direction even if the tools are not the ones we expect. We have to give up our stubbornness and our desire to go our own way and just listen and respond.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Where's Noah?

Yesterday was a crazy rainy day here in west Wichita. I wrote on my Facebook status that I was thankful that we do not have a basement, and today I learned that my thankfulness was warranted. Our neighborhood sits near the Little Arkansas River and the Big Ditch. At the end of our street, there is a water run-off pond. With the 9+ inches of rain that fell yesterday, the pond quickly filled up, went over the sidewalk, and filled the ditch on the other side. There is also a drainage ditch a couple of blocks to the west of us, and it was completely filled and overflowing into the side streets as well, so there was nowhere for the water to go. Our street runs north-south but it curves to the east because of the pond. The houses that sit on the north side of the pond were high enough up that the water from the pond did not completely fill their backyards, but apparantly a sewer pump failed and caused the water to back up into everyone's basement (at least on our street).

This afternoon our street was lined with various cleaning crews. I don't think that I have ever seen so many of our neighbors outside of their houses at the same time. We live on a fairly reclusive street, and we really do not know many of our neighbors very well. In times like this, I wish that I had more boldness. I let fear take over, and I decide to do nothing. Today would have been a great day to go down the street and ask our neighbors if there was anything we could do to help, but I did not offer any help. I tell myself that they would not want to be bothered. I keep praying that God will show me how to trust Him more, but I know that I need to put my faith in action so that He can show me His faithfullness.

I will end on an ironic note. This semester I have been car pooling with a couple of guys from work. We meet at the Ark church on north Maize road and one of us drives from there. Yesterday, thankfully, I was the driver. When we returned to Maize, the church parking lot was flooded and I was unable to take my passenger to his car. It was not until later that I thought about the irony of a flood surrounding Noah's Ark (if you have not seen the church, it is a replica of an ark). I just wish that I would have taken a picture.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Why Monet?

By no means am I an expert in art, though I think that I would enjoy taking some art appreciation classes. From what I know about studying art, analyzing the work would be similar to analyzing literature. Before I became and English major, I probably would have told you that I prefer art that is more realistic, where the items in the piece look like they do in real life. Being a black and white thinker, I typically do not like to have to read between the lines. Therefore, work by impressionist painters would not have been my favorite form of art. I always thought that the works were pretty, but I did not really appreciate them.

Than I went back to school and became and English major. I learned how to read beyond the literal words on the page and in doing so, I also learned how to read beyond the literal in other areas of life. Not only has this helped me as I study the Bible, but it has also helped me to appreciate art, movies, and television as well.

After I received my Master's degree (and my youngest sister finished her first Bachelor's), we went with my family to Las Vegas. This was our second trip to Vegas. Matt and I were not very interested in gambling, so we took advantage of other activities that are available (surprisingly there are quite a few non-gambling options in Vegas that do not cost an arm and a leg). In our hotel there was a huge car collection, and across the street at the Bellagio, they had a Monet exhibit. After going to the exhibit, I have become a fan of Monet's work. We have a couple of prints in our bedroom. Now I appreciate the stories behind the works, and I like having to study the piece to truly understand it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Was It a Scam?

Today I went to have my hair highlighted and cut. When I got to the salon, my stylist told me that she needed to cut another client's hair first. Since I knew my session would take a while, I was not too worried about the delay. An hour later (yikes!), she finished cutting the other customer's hair and told her that the cost would be $45. The lady gasped and told my stylist that last time she only charged her $16. My stylist was so stunned that it took her a while to respond. I was sitting there thinking that there was no way she only charged her $16. A discussion ensued where the lady said that she guessed she would have to pay by credit card and then mentioned that she would not be able to return. My stylist offered to only charge her $30 since the client had short hair which would require her to come in more frequently. The lady's response was that another establishment only charged her $16.

At first, I thought that the lady was genuinely surprised by the cost, but the more I thought about, the cynicism that I have developed listening to my students' excuses kicked in, and I began to wonder if the lady was trying to scam my stylist. My stylist used to work for Wilborn's and she was one of the senior stylists. Since she and another girl have started their own business, she has kept her prices the same as they were at Wilborn's, so I can't imagine that she accidentally only charged the woman $16 previously.

I was a little unhappy and I felt bad for my stylist because I had to wait an hour for this client and then this conflict arose. But all's well that end's well (even though I was at the salon for 4 hours). My stylist did a great job with my hair. I love the colors that she added (I went dark for the fall), and I will try to add a picture in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Beautiful People

As we sit here watching an ABC special report on privileged people, I am reminded of my workout at the YMCA this afternoon. Typically, most people dress modestly and since it is not a high price club, there is a nice diverse group of people working out: people who are more athletic and fit than I am, and those who are not (not that I compare myself to others). I often feel pretty good about myself after working out.

Anyway, to the point of my story. After my workout, cool down, and stretch (remember to always stretch), I was walking across the gym and an attractive, fit young woman was walking in front of me. Now, this is not an unusual sight; what bothered me was her outfit. She had on a pair of form-fitting work out pants that sat low on her hips and a double sports bra, so most of her midriff was exposed (along with the cute little tattoo on her hip). Walking behind her, I was able to see the men's reaction. Nearly every man young and old made an effort to look at this woman. Since I was dressed in my old workout capris and a regular t-shirt, I felt frumpier and frumpier the farther we walked.

The young woman certainly had the figure to pull the outfit off, but I wonder why a woman would want so many men to oogle her. I'm not a feminist, but I feel like women like this are not helping the fight for women to not be seen as a sexual object. With all the stories of sexual predators, one would think that all women would make more of an effort to dress a little more modestly. Of course, the trends in Hollywood do not support this effort, so it really should not come as a surprise that women choose to dress this way. Perhaps the YMCA needs to establish a dress code. It is a family center after all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

Today and yesterday my students had to turn in their first major essay. My classes are web supported, so that means that they have to turn their papers in online. In our web supported shell, I have a dropbox set up where the students can find the details about the assignment and then submit it as an attachment when they are ready to do so.

Over and over again in class, I told the students that they needed to submit their assignments via the dropbox, but wouldn't you know it, at least one person in each class submitted their essay via email (either as an attachment to an email or in the body of the email itself). This was even after today in my classes I wrote on the board to not turn the essay in via email.

I'm sure many mothers can tell their own stories, but how come when you tell people not to do something, invariably one or two of them will still do it? I often joke with my students that I hate to tell them not to do something because I know that some of them will go ahead and do it. One of the people I car pool with said that when he was in college, they debated in his speech class who was to blame if a student misunderstood the teacher's instructions. Is it the teacher's fault for not communicating clearly (even though 69 out of 75 students were able to follow the directions) or is it the student's fault? I'm curious to know what you all think about this issue.

Monday, September 8, 2008

End of Summer??

What about all this crazy "summer" weather? Fifty degrees in September! Once Labor Day has passed, I begin to look forward to fall, but after the cool summer that we had this year, I would like to be able to enjoy a few more 90+ degree days. I am a summer baby and this weather is really messing with my attitude. I realize that I should be thankful for the weather each day because it is part of God's purpose, but I selfishly wish that He would take the rain away for a little while and let the sun shine for more than just a couple of days at a time.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Well, Here Goes

I've decided to try keeping a blog. Hopefully I'll not disappoint those who are expecting great words of wisdom and insight from this thirty-something English instructor.