Friday, October 30, 2009

Creativity in Education

My sister Laurie shared this wonderful video with me. Take the time to watch this talk given by Sir Ken Robinson on the importance of supporting creativity in education. It's also quite entertaining! You'll be glad you watched it.

Thanks, Laurie. :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Churchmouse Publications

I am now a producer for Churchmouse Publications! Here's how they describe themselves:

Creative features for
faith-based publications—priced right
and ready to download NOW!
With just a click of your mouse and ours . . .
  • Churches & Ministries produce a more creative bulletin, newsletter, presentation or report using excellent features from talented producers at an affordable cost!
  • Faith-based Fellowships & Organizations achieve professionalism in their in-house publications without the expense of a full-time staff!
  • Periodicals & Newspapers meet editorial deadlines while satisfying subscribers' appetite for new and interesting material!
  • Individuals & Business Owners find just the right features to liven up their family and business newsletters and/or enhance their business presentations or social events

We're excited to bring you a whole new way of getting your message out. Please take some time to browse through the site and see what Churchmouse Publications will do for you—and then tell a friend!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Letter to the Editor

Today The Clarion-Ledger ran a letter I wrote to the editor concerning the recent vote by the School Board to discontinue the strings program in Jackson public schools--a program that has been around for 42 years.

Several others (including students) have written similar letters to express their disappointment. Here is another related article that ran today:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I'm sitting in a used book store wondering why the original owners of these books decided they didn't want to own them anymore. It is somewhat intimidating to try to write in this environment. It's like I'm surrounded by hundreds of little voices reminding me that if I don't write something really meaningful, my books (futuristically speaking) will end up here one day--read once and then cleared off the shelf at home to make room for better books.

Of course, what is even more intimidating is to think that I might never even have a book in a new bookstore, since they have to have made a stop there first before landing in the used store. When I go into Barnes & Noble, I see the thousands and thousands of books that have been published, and I feel encouraged that surely I, too, can do this. (Have you seen some of those titles?!) But then when I actually start pursuing the publication process, I can get easily overwhelmed and discouraged. It's a tough market. And there are lots and lots and lots of other writers out there. Lots.

I shall press on, though. Even if I never end up with a published book, no one can stop me from writing for myself or on my blog--my own little publications.

I'm glad there's not a used blog store. I don't think I could handle that.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Venting and Confessing

I need to lose weight. There. I said it . . . again. I don't know how many Day Ones I've had. The problem is that there haven't been quite as many Day Twos. But here I am again.

To be perfectly honest, I get resentful when I start thinking about the fact that I need to lose weight. I never thought twice about the numbers on the scale until after I had my first baby. It was never an issue for me before then, and I was free to eat whatever I wanted. But I packed on the pounds in my first pregnancy, and those pounds hung around for the second and third pregnancies. Now my third baby is five years old, and I can no longer use the baby weight excuse.

But now I have another excuse. The medication I've been taking for a few years has caused me to gain considerable weight, and it causes the weight to be more difficult to lose. This is extremely frustrating and discouraging for me. I managed to lose 11 pounds on Weight Watchers last year, but I have since gained those 11 plus a few more back. AAARRRGH!

While I'm in the confession mode, I'll just go ahead and say that I get in the "It's not fair!" mindset when I look at my three sisters, who are all tiny. And, yes, two of them have had babies. Don't we have the same genes?! My guess is that whatever skinny genes skipped over me are the same genes that contained natural basketball ability, since I was the only one in the family who didn't excel in this. I'm a lot more okay with missing out on the basketball gene, though. But that skinny gene sure would be nice to have. (And by the way, I am not excited about skinny jeans coming back in style.)

So there's that frustration, which I know is really my own sinful battle with pride. I am not to compare myself with others. Sometimes I let myself fall into the flip side of that comparison, allowing myself to look around and say, "Well, I'm smaller than she is. And her and her and her . . . " (No, I don't say this out loud.) But this is equally wrong and very prideful. Plus, I live in Mississippi, which is known for its obesity, so it's not even a good comparison.

And then there's the very real battle against the overwhelming pressure in America to have a perfect body. TV, magazines, movies, spokesmodels, the internet, infomercials, etc., etc. all tell us that we can have the body we always dreamed of and that it is easy and that we can do it all in just three minutes a day. Riiiiiiiiight.

The truth is that it takes a lot of work. It takes discipline and dedication and motivation--three things that must also be included in that skinny/basketball gene I didn't get. So since I don't have it naturally, I'm going to have to come up with a test tube gene or something that I can inject myself with, because something has to happen. My doctor said so. Grrrrrr.

So here I am at Day One . . . again. My plan is to incorporate a lot more exercise into my daily life and also make better choices in my eating. I know myself well enough to know that if I set unrealistic expectations (like cutting out sweets altogether), I won't be successful. I would much rather make long-term lifestyle changes than be on a crazy strict short-term diet. I also have to reason with myself--my health is more important than my appearance. I need to make changes in my diet and exercise habits, even if I don't lose all the weight I'd like to lose (particularly due to the culprit known as my medication).

To sound very Nike about it--I have to just do it. I can't treat this like I treat the dirt in my house, which is to just stare at it and wonder why it doesn't go away on its own. But I can't let it become an obsession, either, because I think that that is sinful as well. I also can't let my reasons (having babies, being in my 30s, a slower metabolism, and all the others) become excuses. And no one else can lose the weight for me. (Darn it.)

So here's to Day One. May there only be one of you.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Need to Write

I need to write.

For as long as I can remember, writing has been a huge outlet for me. Through writing, I am best able to express my thoughts and feelings and convictions and questions. I am braver when I write. And when I really get on a roll, I feel more energized. Oftentimes, I end up learning something new about my relationships with God and others through my own writing. And sometimes I learn something about my relationship with myself.

I need to write.

I enjoy writing. I used to feel that my writing was less personal if I didn't do it with pen and paper. But I've now given in to the fact that typing is much faster and easier on my aging hands. That and the fact that I have a laptop, so I can sit on the couch or at the kitchen table or at a coffee shop to work on my craft. I like mobility. It seems to help with writer's block when it hits me.

I need to write.

So often I feel that things are building up inside me. And though a good cry helps, I am most helped by being able to write down my thoughts. I am able to sort through everything and analyze what is really going on in my head. Most of the time, I find that things aren't really as overwhelming as they feel. It helps me to see it on paper, because I feel that I have a better handle on it all. I don't really think that that is a control issue; it's more of a coping mechanism for me. I understand this about myself--that I get easily overwhelmed. And if writing and list-making can help me calm down and cope, well, then I'm perfectly okay with that.

I need to write.

I absolutely love bringing joy to people through my words. I enjoy being able to tell them what they mean to me through cards and letters and e-mails. And I love that they can read it over and over again, if they like. This is also why I enjoy cards and letters and e-mails so much. I love to read things over and over again. I thrive on words of encouragement. (Confession: My favorite part about selling things on eBay is getting the positive feedback.)

I need to write.

If I can make someone laugh through my telling of a funny story or making an interesting observation or coming up with something clever or witty to say, that absolutely makes my day! I adore people who can make me laugh, and I know what good medicine it is for the soul. So if I can do that for someone else . . . Wow.

I need to write.

Somehow this need is just wired in me. I think it is at least somewhat genetic, as my grandfather, my mother, and now my daughter all seem to have it. I also think that this condition intensifies with each generation, as my eight-year-old daughter has poems, essays, novels, and other works in progress stashed all over the house.

I need to write.

One of my favorite college professors, Dr. Melinda Gann, once gave us some great advice. She said that when choosing a career, we should figure out what it is that we love to do . . . and then be happy that we get paid to do it. Truth be told, it was only a few short years ago that I even realized that you could actually make some money through writing. I always wanted to be published, but it was for the sheer honor of having someone believe I had written something worth sharing. So I was thrilled to know that money actually came with the gig! Granted, I don't make much right now, but I don't really care. I am doing something I love to do. Don't get me wrong--I would be more than happy to make a lot of money through my writing. But that's not what drives me. Of course, the fact that my husband brings home plenty of bacon for our family takes the pressure off of me, too.

I need to write.

More than anything, I want to use my writing to encourage others. "We read to know that we are not alone," C.S. Lewis once said (or at least Anthony Hopkins said it when he portrayed Lewis in the movie Shadowlands). I want to share my life, the lessons I am learning, and how my faith is impacted through the gift of the written word.

I need to write.

And I think I shall.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I just read the following words and was greatly struck by them. It is both convicting and enlightening. Something to ponder, pray about, and put into practice--

"It is impossible to risk your life to make others glad in God if you are an unforgiving person. If you are wired to see other people's faults and failures and offenses, and treat them roughly, you will not take risks for their joy. This wiring--and it is universal in all human beings--must be dismantled. We will not gladly risk to make people glad in God if we hate them, or hold grudges against them, or are repelled by their faults and foibles. We must become forgiving people.

Don't start raising objections about the hard cases. I am talking about a spirit, not a list of criteria for when we do this or that. Nor am I talking about wimpy grace that can't rebuke or discipline or fight. The question is, do we lean toward mercy? Do we default to grace? Do we have a forgiving spirit? Without it we will walk away from need and waste our lives . . .

Forgiveness is essentially God's way of removing the great obstacle to our fellowship with Him. By canceling our sin and paying for it with the death of His own Son, God opens the way for us to see Him and know Him and enjoy Him forever. Seeing and savoring Him is the goal of forgiveness. Soul-satisfying fellowship with our Father is the aim of the cross. If we love being forgiven for other reasons alone, we are not forgiven, and we will waste our lives . . .

. . . the motive for being a forgiving person is the joy of being freely and joyfully at home with God . . . Joy in God overflows in glad-hearted mercy to people, because joy in the merciful God cannot spurn being merciful. You cannot despise becoming what you enjoy about God."

--Taken from the chapter entitled "The Goal of Life--Gladly Making Others Glad in God" in the book Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper

Church and Small Groups

I really like and identify with the things Neil shares in this post . . .