Why Online Learning?

I studied online to get my Associate of the Arts Degree. I am now attending RU online as an English major. Online learning is great because I can study and still adapt for life’s other happenings (doctor appointments, travel, etc.). I enjoy online learning and recommend it to anyone who already has a full life and wants a good education.

Why English Major?

I chose to major in English because I enjoy writing. My husband and pastors have encouraged my writing talents and abilities. After fasting, I decided God, too, was telling me English was the field I was to study. An English degree will allow me to enter my dream field of publishing, or give me plenty of flexibility for other career fields.

Why Regent University?

I had been watching The 700 Club for a few years. They showed many Regent University commercials and I determined to attend RU someday. I am grateful everyday that God grant my desire to study at a Christ-centered university. The ability (if not the requirement) to apply a biblical worldview to all my assignments is helping me develop into a high-quality religious writer.

English Major

30 May 2011

Memorial Day Ponderings

On this Memorial Day, May 30, 2011, I want to take a moment and remember a great group of soldiers known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

The Tuskegee Airmen fought for our nation in a time when many thought they were not capable simply because of the color of their skin. They endured many hardships - fighting on the field as did all soldiers of World War II, and off the field against racism and oppression.

My husband is in the U.S. Air Force so I get on-base commissary shopping privileges. When I am there, I occasionally come across these great Tuskegee Airmen. Knowing that I can only imagine the hardships these men endured, I consider it a great honor to be able to do something as simple as shop for groceries among them.

I was in Washington, D. C. yesterday, walking through town as the biker veterans toured around the mall. I saw two Tuskegee Airmen and had to speak to them. They were sitting at the curb, though, and I knew they would not be able to hear me over the roar of the hundreds of motorcycles passing in front of them. Although I wanted to tell them how honored I am to partake in the life of freedom and the privileges I receive as a military wife because of the sacrifices they were willing to make all those years ago, I opted to simply walk up to them and shake their hand and say, "Thank you."

I know that all our veterans from all the wars and all the eras of our nation are to be thanked and honored for their sacrifices. But, there is something special about the men who fought for a country that as a whole had no faith in them.

A final salute to all American veterans. Your fine work and willingness to lay down your life for me does not go unappreciated.

28 September 2010

Coming out of Debt

If one could develop Stockholm Syndrome with her debt, I could honestly say that may be just one I have done.

On Friday, October 15, 2010, my husband and I expect to be completely out of debt.

It was my husband who helped shape my opinion on debt. Before we married, I saw debt as a necessary evil, as something that everyone just simply lives with and does not get away from until they die. I did not see debt as evidence that we were living outside our means. I figured debt was okay as long as we could pay the payments; we were only living outside our means if we bought things on credit and could not afford the payments. Such was my thinking for many years.

It took several years of my husband's frustration, many sermons on debt, and a word of knowledge from a pastor in January 2010 for me to realize we did in fact need to make sure we got out of debt before the end of the year.

Even as I came to know consumer debt only works against me, I was not sure I wanted to let ours go. It was a way of knowing where our money was going. As each debt disappeared over the past years, we subsequently increased our spending on dining out and entertainment. This increased spending added to our feelings that our money was simply "disappearing." At least with credit card bills and car payments we had something to show for where our money went.

Much like a victim who relates to and even clings to the perpetrator, I had come to cling to the debt as a safety blanket. I did not want to be controlled by the debt, but wanted to keep it comfortably within reach. I wanted to come to its defense against my husband and everyone else who told me to get rid of it. Everyone talked about debt being bondage. However, I wanted to believe I was not in bondage to anything, including my debt. I was in debt because I had freely chosen to have it. It had me in the same position as a victim who believes she has chosen to be under the control of her abuser. I believed the debt would help me accomplish my desires, without regarding how much it was really costing me and without taking to heart the fact that God's warns us that the borrower is servant to the lender. It was not the debt itself that was my captor, and to whom I had this kind of Stockholm Syndrome. Rather, it was the holder of that debt that was my captor; the bank, the mortgage company, the other financiers.

Then came the word of the Lord through a well-trusted pastor that we all needed to get out of debt as soon as possible. Like many preachers and speakers I heard in the year following his new year sermon, the pastor had been warned by God that His people need to protect themselves from the further collapse of the American and world economies. They would do this by coming out from under the bondage of their debtors.

And, so, in just a couple more days, we as a family expect to be out from under the bondage of our debtors. It is an event that brings hope and yet a fearful sense of responsibility. We will be responsible for making sure we do not go into debt again. We will be responsible for saving or investing the money we gain by being debt free. We will be responsible for not wasting our money on those little extras just because our bills have decreased. All these responsibilities bring with them a fear that made me willing to continue to hang onto the debt.

And so, October 15, 2010, will be a date that will live forever in our family. It will be the date that we as a family quit wasting our money, sending it to our credit holders. For me personally, it will be the date that I have solid evidence that I have submitted my finances to God's will and that I have quit looking to my ability to pay bills as a form of stability. My sense of stability (at least in the area of finances) now comes from my obedience to God's Word.

14 May 2010

Breaking Out of the Box

This summer I am pursuing many interests I have always wanted to pursue. Too often, lack of resources (money, places to go, etc.) and lack of time prevented my ability to do many things I wanted to do.

This summer all of that changes. I now have the time and money to do just about everything I ever wanted to do. I am taking tennis and ice skating lessons and scrapbooking and basket weaving classes. I have joined a type of book club at church, and I have begun my first redwork (embroidery in all red) quilt project. All these things are a my own efforts to break out of my box.

See, I have never considered myself athletic. In fact, I have always dislike sports, especially team sports. And, I was never very good at them so I was always embarrassed to play sports around other people, particularly as a child when being poor at sports only got me ridiculed. I love watching ice skating competitions, and though I like skating some, I have always been too afraid to learn to do it well. I do not like the feeling of falling, even in a controlled apparatus such as a roller coaster. So, the thought of falling from a triple Lutz with no control or safety scares me to no end. Scrapbooking even scares me because it is not structured enough. I like quilting and knitting where the instructions are laid out, and if I follow all the instructions step by step my project will turn out "just right." Basket weaving isn't too scary. However, there are a lot of different types and colors; and weaving too tightly will make your basket turn out differently than if you weave it too loosely. The part that scares me is getting more creative on my own once I learn the basic methods and patterns.

I started the exit from my box with tennis lessons in April. I went to one lesson, and I liked it so much that my husband got me a new racket and supplies for my birthday. Last week, I continued my box exodus with my first ice skating lesson. These first two things on my list of box-breakers were great, but they are not as "daring" for me as learning to scrapbook. This brings us to this week and my new-found freedom in creativity.

I took my first scrapbooking class this Wednesday. It was actually an altered book class. An altered book is the art of taking a book, any book, and decorating the pages. You may cut a hole in a stack of the pages to make a window with some interesting object in it. Or, you may paste pictures or words on other pages. It is entirely up to you what you want to do with your book. When I first heard of this technique, my greatest question was, "Why?" As an avid reader and a writer, I could not imagine bringing myself to commit the sacrilege of cutting up a book. I was sure it was something I would never do. But, I determined I was going to do something totally out of the ordinary and have complete fun doing it. I wasn't going to worry about whether it was right or wrong. I took to altering my book so quickly and so creatively that I made my teacher proud. She said, "Wow. When you get it, you really go. I just gave her instructions and she took off." (I don't REALLY remember if this is exactly what she said, but it is a summation of what she was saying, anyway.) I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I now LOVE feeling free to be creative, to take ideas and put them down in a comprehensive art form.

And, I think this indicative of how God created us. No, not everyone will be "crafty," but everyone can be creative at finding ways to do what God has called them to do. Additionally, everyone has at least one hobby, sport, or activity they like to do that may be just recreational, and outside his calling. Why not find that one extracurricular activity (or several, as in my case) and do it with as much gusto and joy of living as one can conceive?

I have discovered the ability to let God be creative through me. On Wednesday, when I was finished with my scrapbooking class, I was so inspired and proud of myself that I devised this little quote:

When you break out of the box you should break out hard enough and fast enough so as to destroy the box to the point that it cannot be entered again.

I have now broken completely out of my box, and I do not want to go back. I like being free to be me. Freedom like this is something I don't believe I have ever had, and it is something I certainly do not ever want to lose. My prayer is that all who read this will be inspired to do something they have let fear keep them from doing. I hope the freedom they feel from doing something so out of the ordinary will be a tangible example for them of the freedom we have in Christ. And, lastly, I hope they find a boldness that will translate to every area of their lives, and aid them in evangelizing and discipling the world as Jesus commanded.

27 September 2009

I took a break from school during Spring and Summer 2009. With the Fall 2009 semester nearly half over, I wanted to take time to write a new, and hopefully insightful, blog.

I wrote once about how I had newly discovered the social network world of facebook and myspace. My favorite network to use is facebook. I have found many friends through that network, friends that I had always wished I had never lost contact with. Tonight, I am reflecting on friends and how important they are in our lives. There are at least six friends I think everyone should have. It is possible to have more than one of teach type of friend, but everyone should have at least one of the following type of friend:

  1. The friend who thinks you are funny, even when you are not or don't mean to be. This type of friend reminds you not to take yourself so seriously all the time.
  2. The friend who lets you be yourself. This type of friend puts up with everything about you - good, bad or just plain annoying. (Though if this person is a true friend they will not let your attempts to be yourself endanger your life or that of someone else.)
  3. The friend who holds you accountable to living a life worthy of being called a Christian. This type of friend corrects you when you need it, but also realizes that they can only direct you to the truths of God's word; the rest is up to you.
  4. The friend who prays for you. This friend will go to God on your behalf on a regular basis, not ceasing until they have seen God's grace manifest in your life.
  5. The friend who is like family. This friend will invite you over for family gatherings, will care for your children like an aunt or uncle, and will be a brother or sister (mom/grandma or dad/grandpa) when you need one.
  6. The friend who never forgot you. This friend, though time and miles may separate you, will be the one person who never forgets what your friendship once meant to them.
These are the six friends I find most important in my life. I am sure there are some I could think of if I gave myself more time, but I wanted to write about these quickly while I am thinking of them. It is possible, too, that one person could be more than one type of friend. However, I think the reason most people will find at least six totally different people to be the friends described above is that God wants us to have that many relationships. God made man to be communal. He doesn't want us to find all our needs met in one person. If we did find every type of friend we needed in one person a couple of things could result. One, we could "worship" that friend and never really trust God the way we should. Two, we would stop looking for friends, and thus minimize the amount of people we can impact in return by being part of their lives as well.

I do think it is possible that one person could be a different type of friend to different people, too. For instance, to one friend I may be the one who holds them accountable and yet to another friend I may be the only person in the world who finds them funny.

In any case, I hope that everyone who calls me friend sees me as at least one of the six on the list. And, I hope it is the type of friend they need me to be. I would hate to be accountability-holding friend to someone who has enough of that type of friend and who therefore needs me to fulfill a different role for them. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would reveal to me exactly what type of friend I need to be when.

01 April 2009

What Does It Matter?

I have noticed an alarming rise in the number of murder/suicides. Particularly disheartening are those involving parents and children. Just yesterday, I read an article about a man who killed his estranged wife, their teenage daughter, and his sister and nephew before killing himself (http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-national/20090408/Alabama.Four.Dead/). Today, the news reported the story of a woman who rented a gun at a shooting range, and after a seemingly enjoyable time together, the woman shot and killed her son and then herself (http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-national/20090408/FL.Gun.Range.Death/). Everyday, there are reports from all over the world of similar happenings.

With so many people hurting to the point that they are taking not only their own lives but the lives of the people they should love, I got to thinking about things and I have to ask, “What does it matter?” I will post a series of blogs, all of which will pose this question. The blogs are not meant to condemn anyone's beliefs or lift anyone’s beliefs above another’s. They are simply meant to make us think about what is most important in the grand scheme of things.

The first in my series will address the issue of Easter Sunday. Future blogs will address other topics as they occur.

What does it matter if people want to continue to call what has become known as Resurrection Day Easter Sunday? I know the history of the term Easter. I also recently read an online article that said part of the reason the Christian holiday of Easter is celebrated in the way and on the day it is has its origins in trying to save the lives of missionaries and tribal converts. The story goes that when witnessing in certain areas missionaries found it expedient to allow certain tribes to keep their rituals, with the understanding that the rituals had to be “Christianized” (http://wilstar.com/holidays/easter.htm). Thus began the combining of the already celebrated time of the resurrection (a celebration that began as early as the time of Jesus’ disciples) and the pagan worship of the goddess Eostre.

The question remains, though, what does it matter if children innocently want to collect Easter eggs or eat sugar-coated marshmallow bunnies and chicks? Yes, these things symbolize the worship of the fertility goddess. But, fertility also represents life, something only God can give. Instead of worrying about our being pagan or heathen-like (heathen being a word I would never recommend one use in front of the non-believer; the dictionary specifically says it is intended to be an insult, something a believer should never do) because we practice certain Easter traditions, why not teach our children that the symbols they see at Easter represent the life Christ has given us. Really, take a moment and ask yourself, “What does it matter?” Do non-believers come to Christ when we are adamant about not calling a particular day Easter? When we are so hard-nosed on issues that do not affect our salvation do we accomplish our goal of showing God’s love to others, of loving them in spite of our differences of opinion? Are we harming believers or non-believers, either one, if we allow them to keep their childhood Easter traditions? Personally, I think the answer to the question at hand is, “It doesn't matter.”

16 March 2009

The Change of Christ

I had an interesting conversation with someone today. She is a very sweet lady with whom I always enjoy talking. Today, she had the opportunity to hear my life story. I did not intend to tell it to her, but she kept asking questions about my childhood and my life. So, after answering all her questions, it turned out that she got most of my life story summed up in an hour-and-a-half-long conversation.

At the end of my talking with my friend, she was in shock. She said she never would have guessed that I had led the life I did. I come from a broken (and what I call fragmented) home. I had a child at 17, was sexually abused and raped by various people, and married a man I wanted to love, but wasn't sure I loved him at the time. My friend said that I am so confident and sure of myself and religious that she never would have thought all those things had happened to me.

I said to her that's why I am the way I am now, that it was the change that Christ brought into my life that makes it hard to believe. She had made the mistake of assuming I was always religious or had it all together. I explained that without Christ, I would have continued the life I grew up with, and it would be obvious to everyone, because that is the way my life was headed.

When we are open with people and let them know that we are real people who have had the same problems they do, we don't need to worry so much about sharing the gospel with them. They will want to know more when they compare what they hear us share about our past and what they see in us now. There are times that God wants us to specifically voice the good news of the Gospel. Then there times like today when we get the privilege of being a living example of the change that following Christ brings into our lives, obeying Christ's admonition in John 12:32 to lift Him up so that He can draw all men unto Him. How marvelous it feels to not only experience the change Christ has brought to my life to be a visible witness of it by which others can be blessed and saved.

12 March 2009

First Blog

This first post has been very difficult for me to write. I have thought about it for days. I believe it to be one of the most important posts I will ever make.

See, I know that if it is too long it won't get read. I know because if I see a post that is more than just a paragraph or two I skip right through it. I also know it has to be intersting or you won't come back to my blog again. I know because I don't revisit the blogs of people who have a habit of making boring posts or, worse yet, posts that ramble and never make a point.

One thing I would like to discuss is the issue of finding old friends. I have recently joined the many thousands of people who use online social networks. (In fact, I am part of so many I lost count.) Online networks have allowed me to find many old friends. These friends are not necessarily constantly in my thoughts, but they are often in my memories. It makes me wonder if our old friends think of us as often as we think of them. It is nice that they remember us when they hear our name. But, when telling their children stories about their own childhood, do they remember our names as well as the times they spent with us? Or, do they say, "I spent the summer playing with this girl, but I don't remember her name"?

As Christians we want people to remember us. It is human nature--God made us to be social creatures. More importantly, though, we want people to remember the message of God's love for them. I encourage you that as you move forward in your life, making new friends and possibly leaving others, to make the effort to leave your friends with the memory of God's love. Perhaps, you will be able to show them God's love in such a way that they can't forget your name. Even if they do forget your name, cause them to remember the most important name of all: God.