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 (Merriam-webster.com)

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.