"As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him..."
~Psalm 103:15-17a

My Road

Right now my life looks about like this:

Bend in the Road

I can see ahead a bit - I know (as much as anyone can know) what will happen in the next few months.  Then there's a curve around which I can't see.

What is ahead?


What should I do next?


What is going to happen one, five, ten years from now?



I wish my life would look like this:

A straight road leading to the horizon.

It would be so much easier to see straight ahead to the horizon and know what I should do next and what is going to happen.  That's the way I like things - planned out so I know what will happen and when.  I don't like all the bends in the road where I can't have the end in sight to know what to do right now.

It's so hard to try to decide what I should do next year - there are so many choices.

Bible school?  If so, which school?  How should I earn the money?


Get a job?  What kind of job?  Christian ministry or secular?  What would I enjoy doing?


Is there something else I should do?


And of course I want to serve God in whatever I do - but which choice would be the best for that?


What is coming around the next bend in the road?



There are too many decisions and not enough preview of what is ahead.  But then if there were no bends in the road and everything was just laid out for me, there would be no need to trust God.  I would be able to simply do my own thing and have God on the sidelines.  But that's not what God wants.  He wants me to depend and wholly rely on Him.  And I can't learn that if I don't have some bends in my road.  Looks like God knows what He's doing after all. :)

So I'll use this time in my life to learn to trust God and to rely on Him for the wisdom I need in making these decisions.  And then I'll trust Him to handle the outcomes of those decisions - whether good or bad, He can use them in my life to make me more like Him.

I also need to learn to not tell people what I plan to do next year since my plans keep changing...

Cookie Overload

Working at church definitely has its perks.  Around Christmastime, we are innundated with treats - from people in the church, from people who use our church, leftovers from Christmas programs at church; cookies, popcorn, candy.  Of course we really appreciate all of these - they are delicious!

The problem, though, is that my job at church is pretty much a sedentary job.  With all these (scrumptious) cookies sitting not 10 feet from my desk, it's easy to pick one up whenever I walk past (which is often - the walking past, that is).  But except for these little trips (which do have a purpose other than cookie collecting) I just sit at my desk working on the computer.  It doesn't take an expert to figure out that the calorie intake is much larger than the number of calories I burn.

It's not that I am a cookie monster, always stuffing my face with these treats.  It's just that between cookies at work, cookies at home, cookies at Christmas parties and cookies at Christmas programs, there are just too many opportunities to eat them!  And cookies at work are probably the most difficult to resist because the cookies and I spend all day together.

What's the solution?  I could make up reasons to run around the church - upstairs and downstairs and in-between-stairs to burn off the calories.

I could move the cookies to the intern office (wouldn't they love that) or to the kitchen, which would require intentionality to get a cookie.

I could just enjoy them while they're here and work off the extra calories beginning in the new year (that's what New Year's Resolutions are for, right?).

Or, I could use this as an opportunity to practice self control.  I guess that would be a good idea, huh?  It's something I need to work on in other areas of my life, so I can use all the practice I can get.

So onto the rest of my cookie-resisting day.

Laundry

One of my responsibilities at home is keeping up with the laundry.  It's amazing how much laundry eight people can come up with in a week!  It seems like I just get the laundry room emptied out and then there's another huge pile.  Or I get caught up on the laundry and think I am done for the day and the baby spits up all over himself, his blankets and someone else, so I have to put in another load.

I've heard before that laundry is a never ending job, but I really understand that now...it's kind of like washing dishes...

But, it could be worse.  Could you imagine having to do eight people's laundry at a laundromat?!  It would take a whole day!

laundromat

Or how about having to wash all those clothes by hand and then string them up between buildings to dry?

clothes-drying-on-line

If I had to do that, I wouldn't let anyone in my family have more than three outfits!

JWs and the Bible

A student that I study the Bible with has run into a Jehovah's Witness, prompting several questions about what I think about them.  I had never really thought about them except as people who teach things not found in the Bible and who do not believe that Jesus is God.  So I got a book from Paul's famous library called Jehovah's Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse, by David A. Reed.  It is a great book, written by a man who is a former JW elder and so knows a lot about what they think and believe.  He gives an overview of what they believe and then goes through the main verses they use to "prove" their points and gives arguments against them.  He also gives his testimony and a guide to talking with JWs (the main point being - don't argue just to "win" - be empathetic and kindly point out what the Bible actually says).  Below are some of the main things they believe compared to what the Bible says.

Jesus


JWs do not believe that Jesus is God.  They think He is just an angel.  In contrast, the Bible states very clearly that Jesus is God.  In Hebrews chapter 1, you will see that it compares Jesus with the angels; it talks about how much greater Jesus is than the angels (verse 4); it says that the angels are to worship Jesus (verse 6); it says that Jesus is God (verses 8 and 10).  From this passage it is clear that Jesus is not just another angel that God created (even a greater angel than the others); He is in fact, God.  There are many other places in the Bible where it clearly says that Jesus is God.

Jehovah


Since the JWs do not believe that Jesus is God, they say that there is only one God, Jehovah.  Because of this, they have changed their Bibles inserting the word Jehovah even when that is not the word used.  The Bible does teach that there is only one God, but it also says that there are three persons in that one God: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit.  This is something that is a bit hard to understand, but it is what is clearly taught in the Bible.  For example, see Mark 12:29-32 (there is only one God); then look at Matthew 3:16-17 (Jesus is baptized, the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of God, comes down from heaven, and there is a voice from heaven - God's voice; this shows that there are three persons).  There are many other examples, too.

144,000


JWs also believe that only 144,000 people can go to heaven.  That number was filled up in 1935, so now anyone who becomes a JW can only hope (if they are good enough) to live on the earth forever (instead of going to heaven).  The Bible teaches, though, that anyone who believes in Jesus (believing that Jesus' death paid our punishment for sin) can be saved and go to heaven; there is no limit on the number of people who can go to heaven.  For example, in John 14:1-3, Jesus talks about going to prepare a place for us (no mention of it being only for some people); in John 17:20-24, Jesus prays that all who believe in Him will be able to go to heaven to see His glory.

Salvation


JWs say that believing in Jesus is the only way to be saved, but in practice, they also think that you have to obey the Watchtower Society (their organization) and do a lot of good things to be saved.  But the Bible makes no mention of this at all.  The only thing you have to do to be saved according to the Bible is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Acts 16:31 and Romans 10:9).

Birthdays


An interesting thing that JWs believe is that it is a sin to celebrate birthdays - if a JW sends a birthday card to someone, he can be "disfellowshipped" (which means no other JWs - even family members - can associate with that person anymore).  However, there is nowhere in the Bible that it says it is bad to celebrate birthdays.  (JWs get this rule from the fact that the only times birthdays are mentioned in the Bible is in connection to Pharoah and Herod, who both had someone killed on their birthdays.  This seems ridiculous to me - the celebration of birthdays has nothing to do with killing people, and it's not like Pharoah and Herod killed people only on their birthdays.)

Blood Transfusions


Another thing they believe is that it is a sin to recieve a blood transfusion - even if they would die if they didn't get it.  If they do get a blood transfusion, they will be disfellowshipped.  The closest thing to this rule in the Bible is when it forbids eating blood, but there is nowhere that the Bible says you cannot use blood (and it's quite a stretch to say that having a blood transfusion is the same kind of thing as eating blood).

This is just a brief summary of some key points.  By no means does it cover everything, nor do I claim to be an expert in this.  My best recommendation to you if you are considering what JWs believe, is to compare it to the Bible.  What does the Bible say?  Even JWs believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, so it should technically take precedence.  No one should believe something just because their organization told them that's the way it is.  Go back to the Truth (Jesus).

Prophetstown Pictures

As promised, here are some pictures from my "bummel" to Prophetstown.

[gallery]

Birthdays, a Bummel and Babies

Well, the past few days have been pretty busy. To begin things, Friday was my birthday. We didn't do too much to celebrate, but several people remembered my birthday, which was very nice, and then we had some good family time that evening over a game of Settlers. Guess who won? Wrong! It wasn't me, it was David. You'd think he'd let me win on my birthday, wouldn't you?!?! :) (Just kidding, David. It was fun.) Then I got to fold some laundry while watching a movie. (Some chores still have to be done, even on birthdays.)

Saturday, I went to Prophetstown State Park with some Chinese friends - they cooked some delicious Chinese food for our picnic! It was very relaxing: walking the trails, observing nature (we even saw a turtle!) and looking at the historic farmhouse. The weather was gorgeous - sunny, but not hot - and we stayed there for about five hours. I'll try to get some pictures here from that trip soon.

Back at home, Mom had gotten a phone call from a social worker, asking if we would take two children in for foster care! (We are a licensed foster care family, but have not had any foster children since Maria came home.) After a quick discussion with Dad, she agreed, so we now have two kids under one year! So Saturday evening, I acted as babysitter, while Mom went shopping. Having babies around sure changes things! :)

Sunday was busy with church and trying to adjust to the babies and figure out schedules (when are they used to eating and napping? they didn't come with many instructions!). Now we're on to a new week. Hopefully we'll be able to get the babies onto a schedule soon.

[By the way, if you are wondering what the "Bummel" in the title is referring to, it is referring to my trip to Prophetstown. Here is the official definition of a bummel according to Jerome in Three Men on the Bummel, written by Jerome K. Jerome: "'A "Bummel"...[is] a journey, long or short, without an end; the only thing regulating it being the necessity of getting back within a given time to the point from which one started. ... But long or short, but here or there, our thoughts are ever on the running of the sand. ... We have been much interested, and often a little tired. But on the whole we have had a pleasant time, and are sorry when ’tis over.'"]

It made my day...

Do you know how easy it is to make someone's day? Very. Not convinced? Here are some real life ways you can make someone's day:

Remember when someone's birthday is and then wish them a happy birthday that day!


Or, you can find a bracelet that someone was desperately looking for.


Or, you can simply take the time to stop and talk to someone. Ask them how they are doing and then really care about the answer.



...If it's so easy to make someone's day, then why don't I do it more often?

Isaiah: Justice and Mercy

In Isaiah chapter 2, Isaiah talks about how the people of God are worshiping other gods and following pagans, rather than following God. In response to this, God is going to humble mankind. He will punish pride and arrogance. People will be fleeing from the "dread of the Lord and the splendor of His majesty" and will leave their idols behind them. What must it be like to have a fear of the Lord like this? One response is definitely to "stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?" Of what account indeed. If God is coming in all the splendor of His majesty, why should we care about man? Yet all too often, I care more for what people will think of me than for what God is going to think of me. Thinking logically, this does not make sense at all, since people are not going to determine where we spend eternity, and they are not the ones we should be striving to please! But it is so easy to forget about the splendor of God's majesty and to forget the dread of the Lord. Oh, that we would keep that in our minds at all times! How much easier it would be to do good and forsake evil if we continually had before us a picture of God in His majesty and splendor.

And, lest all this talk of the fear of God start you thinking that, "Wait a minute! God is a God of love! Love casts out fear!" etc, Isaiah also has a lot to say about God's mercy. We can't throw out God's justice simply because we don't like it. I think Isaiah does a good job of portraying "both sides" (if there are two sides) of God's character: the justice and mercy. Throughout Isaiah, there are passages that point to the hope that is coming in Jesus: the prophecy of a virgin who will be with child (Isaiah 6:13-15); the prophecy of a light coming to shine on the people who live in darkness (9:1-2); the prophecy of a Child who will be born who will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace (9:6-7); and then of course the passage in Isaiah 53 that describes Jesus, who was "pierced for our transgressions" and "crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed." Besides all of these "spotlights of hope," there are numerous references to God's mercy; times when God said, "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more."

What a God we serve! The mighty and awesome God of the universe, who is holy and perfect and cannot tolerate any sin in His presence, but who, in His mercy, makes a way for us to be right with Him through Jesus Christ!

Mariaisms

"A Hamburger!"


"Look!" exclaims Maria, "A hamburger!" She eagerly points out the window toward the deck.

[Quick thought process to figure out what she is trying to say] What? Is someone grilling? No, it's not even dinner time. Does she just see the grill and wants us to make hamburgers? No, she's pointing in a different direction. Where is she pointing, anyway? Oh, toward the... Ooohhh, I see.

"Maria, that's a hummingbird."

"Will Shep Die?!"


"Maria, you have to remember to feed the cat," David reminds her. This is one of her chores: to make sure Kitty has food and water. "If you don't feed the cat, she'll die."

Tears pop into her eyes. She doesn't want Kitty to die!!

"All animals have to eat or they will die. Everybody has to eat. If we didn't feed you, you would die, too. But it would take some time. Kitty won't die because she missed a meal. It takes a while - ten days or longer. You just need to make sure she has food to eat."

Then she does some thinking. I can almost recreate her thought process based on what she says later.

"Kitty would die if she doesn't eat? Everyone would die if they didn't eat? *gasp!* We don't feed Shep anymore! Is Shep going to die?!"

"Mom! Is Shep going to die?! We don't feed him!"

"Oh, no. David does feed Shep - out at the barn when he feeds all the other animals. We just don't feed him any treats anymore because he was getting too fat. He still gets to eat; he won't die."

Don't worry, Maria. We aren't trying to starve our animals. Especially not Shep or Kitty.

[caption id="attachment_48" align="aligncenter" width="176" caption="Shep"]Shep[/caption]

New Hair Style

[caption id="attachment_42" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="My New Hair Stlye "]Crazy Hair[/caption]

Well, what do you think of my beautiful new hair style? Think it will work with my formal evening gown? Or maybe it's more of a casual style to wear on days when I'm going on a picnic. On the other hand, it may be a great style for me to wear to work someday.

If you are interested in imitating this lovely work of art, you just need to divide your hair into small sections and then braid it with a pipe cleaner in each section. I used the sparkly kind of pipe cleaner and tried to let a bit of it hang out at then end, and then curl it a bit to add some glamour. I found that smaller sections work best - the section on top of my head was a bit too large, and the braid didn't stand up as well as I wanted it to. But then again, it added a nice touch to have it hanging low over my face. What do you think?

A Picture Post




To help you get a better idea of how big the Furniture Give Away was, I thought I'd post some pictures.





[caption id="attachment_26" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="This shows almost all of the furniture, spread out on the lawn before the students arrived."]This shows almost all of the furniture, spread out on the lawn before the students arrived.[/caption]



[caption id="attachment_27" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Another view of the furniture"]Another view of the furniture[/caption]

 Line of students
Line of students


[caption id="attachment_34" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Another view of all the students in line."]Another view of all the students in line.[/caption]

"Serving Christ Enthusiastically"

This last week was crazy busy!  We had two teams of people, one from Ohio and one from Pennsylvania, come to help us prepare for our Annual Furniture Give Away.  During the week they had a pretty busy schedule, and I was right in there with them.  Our theme for the week was "serving Christ enthusiastically," based on Colossians 3:23, where it says to "do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men."  I had been thinking about that idea lately because of Sally's experience at Gull Lake Ministries, where she has been working for part of the summer.  It really challenged my thinking and helped me realize that it's a choice I can make, no matter how I feel, I can choose to serve Christ with enthusiasm.  I encouraged the team to do the same and to keep it up through the whole week and to not peter out at the end.

So what did we do with so much enthusiasm?  Well, in the mornings, we had some time for devotions and then I had a chance to talk a bit about the Furniture Give Away (FGA, for short) and enthusiasm.  Then, while they had a chance to learn from Paul and then to learn about various cultures (China, Korea, Japan, India and Indonesia - one per day), I would work on details of the FGA, help prepare lunch and get ready for the afternoon.  During the afternoon, we would work on cleaning our campus house and sorting through the household goods that we were going to give away at the FGA.  (I guess the men on the team actually went out to pick up furniture and repair some furniture, too.)

It was very interesting being the go-to person.  I don't think I have ever heard my name so many times in one week before!  It seemed like it was always, "Beth, what can I do now?"  "Beth, what should we do with this pot?"  "Beth, is there anything else I can help with?"  "Beth..."  "Beth..."  Well, you get the idea.  It was a good experience, though, and I learned a lot:

  • I learned that leaders need to know where they are going before they can help the people following. 

  • I learned that maybe deciding to major in management wasn't such a bad idea...I kind of like being able to boss manage people. 

  • I learned a lot about people and relationships.


One part that I really enjoyed was working with all the teens on the team.  There were about 5-7 teens at any given time, and they were usually around to help me.  They were pretty hard workers and, while it took some encouragement to get them going after lunch, they did a great job helping.  Besides that, they provided quite a bit of entertainment, both at meals and while working.

Overall, it was very encouraging to have such a diverse group of people here serving the Lord however they could.  If you have thought about going on a missions trip and decided not to because it might be too hard on the missionaries, go anyway!  Being on the other side this time, I can tell you that it is extra work, but it is well worth it to know that someone cares about the work we are doing and to see how the team members become excited about our work.

Well, about the actual FGA.  I came at about 6:00 AM.  By the time I parked and got to the house, there were already about 5 students sitting on the front porch waiting!  So all the volunteers rushed around to get everything set up, all the way from bringing the furniture from the storage units to setting up the registration table.  At 9:30 we started registration.  The students came through and were able to choose two pieces of furniture, along with a household item, such as a bag of dishes.  We had about 340 students come through: 300 of them were able to get furniture, and the rest got lots of household items and were put on the list to get furniture if/as it comes in.  Besides all the students, there were about 100 volunteers helping.  I heard my name a lot that day, too.  First of all when the volunteers were trying to figure out what they needed to do, and then later in the day when problems came up.  By God's grace, we had perfect weather and no one was seriously injured.  We were even able to finish up delivering the furniture by 5:00 that evening!  God showed His sovereignty over everything in several ways that day, too, even using my "mistakes" for good.

I could say so much more, but I am off to prepare for the Welcome Picnic for new international students for this coming weekend!  Guess I'll have to wait to take my vacation. :)

It's Been a Month Already!!!

Well, it's been more than a month now that I have been in my internship.  While I don't really have a routine yet, I am enjoying it all so far and am using it as an opportunity to learn flexibility.  I have actually accomplished quite a bit, looking back over the last month, though it didn't seem like much at the time.  Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays are my days for the internship (with the international student ministry at  our church) and Wednesdays and Fridays are the days for my job as church secretary (with the same church).  My secretary job, while very busy and stressful, isn't very exciting or interesting (usually).  But with the internship, I am able to study some books on Christian living and worldview, study the Bible one-on-one with a couple gals from China and plan some big outreach events for the fall.  This is also busy and sometimes stressful, but it is at least somewhat more interesting to talk about, so...

Studies:


I have been reading "Let the Nations Be Glad!" by John Piper, a really good book about, as the subtitle says, "The Supremacy of God in Missions." I have been taking notes from the book as well as writing down some really good quotes, two of which I want to share.  The first one really challenged my thinking: do I do "my utmost" to show people God and His glory and infinite worth?  If I do not, do I really value God as infinitely worthy?  Or am I just saying that I do, with no proof of it showing in my life, behavior and attitudes?:
If I don't do my utmost to show the nations 'the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ,' I will in effect be saying, 'It is not infinitely valuable.  It is not absolutely necessary for eternal life....'  But if I say this, then I do not believe in 'the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.'  And if I do not believe, I lose everything." (page 7)

The second quote was interesting because I guess I had never really thought about the ultimate goal of the church, and if I had, I would probably have said missions.  But it makes sense that:
Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church.  Worship is.  Missions exists because worship doesn't.  Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man." (page 11)

I am very thankful for the opportunity I have in this internship to study and think through these kind of issues.

One-On-One Bible Studies:


These one-on-one Bible studies also really help me think through some issues.  Since I have to explain things in simple English (no cliches or complicated "Christianized" language), I have to really think through what I say.  Sometimes I am able to answer the questions in a way that I feel explains the issue well, other times I have to simply say, "I don't know," and other times I finish the study and just have to pray that God will make things clear to them because I feel like I completely messed it up.  Praise God He can use me even in my weaknesses!

Outreach Events:


These events include the Annual Furniture Give Away for new international students and the Welcome Picnic at the end of Orientation Week for new international students.  There is an incredible amount of detail that goes into planning these events, and I am thankful for my coworkers and family members who are able to help me think through things and plan out how to do everything, from coordinating volunteers to purchasing the necessary supplies to making sure the furniture goes to the right student (for the FGA).  And it's all happening in about a month!  Sometimes I feel a bit stressed about all that.  Stress certainly doesn't end after the last final!

Maria Update

Just a quick update: Maria had her transplant and it went very well.  This week she had a minor surgery to remove the tube used for dialysis.  Now we are just trying to figure out what is causing her knee pain.  It probably starts with the hips, but the doctor hasn't been able to pinpoint anything yet.  When the pain is at the greatest, she can hardly walk and has to be carried most of the time.  When she says it doesn't hurt, she still walks like a little old lady or a penguin.  We're praying that we can figure out what is wrong with this poor gal!  She's such a trooper, hardly ever complaining, and pushing herself to do what she can alone.

Become an Organ Donor

I would encourage you to seriously consider becoming an organ donor. It's as simple as indicating on your drivers' license or telling your family/friends that you would like to donate your organs (any or all) if you die. You aren't going to need them after you are dead, and the surgery to get them out won't even hurt you! You can even have an open casket funeral if you want, since they are able to fix you up so you still look good.

Here are some facts from the United Network for Organ Sharing:

  • Donated organs such as the heart, pancreas, kidneys, liver, lungs and intestines restore life.

  • Tissue donations replace bone, tendons and ligaments to improve strength, mobility and independence.

  • Corneas restore sight.

  • Skin grafts help burn patients heal and often mean the difference between life and death.

  • Heart valves repair cardiac defects and damage.

  • Nearly 84,000 people are waiting for life-saving organ transplants.

  • Seventeen people die each day because organs are not available.

  • Every organ and tissue donor can save and enhance the lives of up to 50 people.


(taken from "What Every Patient Needs to Know." 2004. United Network for Organ Sharing.)

Every little bit counts. Become an organ donor today.

For more information, visit www.donatelife.net.

Shingles and Kidneys

"The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps."  (Proverbs 16:9)

Last week our family was busy re-roofing our house.  In case you have never done this before, it involves scraping off the old shingles (two layers in our case), fixing/replacing sections of the roof, laying down tarpaper, and then hammering on the shingles.  It also involves carefully analyzing the weather: you don't want rain if the old shingles are off but the tar paper isn't on yet; if it's too hot, the shingles are really sticky and it is almost unbearable on the roof; but if it's too cold, the shingles are very hard to cut.  In addition, you must take into account the "Wilson factor."  This refers to the fact that anytime a Wilson (in our line of Wilsons, anyhow) undertakes a project, there is bound to be complications prolonging the process, due to finding or creating other projects along the way.

Thankfully, God protected us, including the various people who helped, from serious injury and the weather cooperated for the most part (only one day of rain).  Also, the "Wilson factor" didn’t seem to come up much except for the time when it rained and a lot of rain water leaked into the wood stove chimney, watering the stove pretty well.  After a bit more than a week at this project, we have new shingles on two thirds of the house and tar paper on the rest, so we should be able to finish it up rather quickly now.

Since we had been working on this project pretty much full time for the past week or so, we were all looking forward to getting back to a normal schedule.  However, God had other plans for our lives…good plans, but not "normal schedule" plans.

Maria, my youngest sister, has been on dialysis, waiting for a new kidney.  Yesterday evening, as we were all preparing for a relaxing night, we received a call from the hospital saying that there was a possible transplant available.  Even though we weren't sure she would be able to get it, they wanted her down there so that if it didn't work out for the other person, she could be down there already.  This morning we found out that she will be getting the kidney, and she is having the operation this afternoon.  How long she will be in the hospital depends on how well she does and how quickly she recovers.

Although this is not what we had planned for this week, we are very excited about this transplant, as we were expecting to have to wait six months to a year for a kidney to become available.  As it is, it has been about six weeks since she was put on the waiting list for a transplant!  Please pray with us that the operation and recovery would go well and that Maria would have peace about it, as she is a bit afraid right now (who wouldn't be?).

Graduation

I am going to graduate!  Yes, I know that's such a surprise. J  I went to the graduation fair today.  If you ever get a chance, you should go to a graduation fair.  You get to fill out all kinds of paperwork - half of which you aren't exactly sure what it's for, but that just adds to the excitement.  Also, you get to practice juggling - holding stacks of various sized papers, pens and ID card in addition to your coat, backpack and the big bag they give you to hold everything, but which you can't really use until the end, because people keep requesting miscellaneous papers from you and you never know what they'll want next!  Not only that, but you get to juggle and fill out the paperwork at the same time!!!  

Then you can have your picture taken, but there isn't much information about what it was/how to do it and there was a long line, so I decided to skip that pleasure (who wants to dress up in a cap and gown in front of a bunch of people anyways).  

And finally, at the end, you get to go to another room, where they have popcorn, pop, pins and more papers.  Anyways, the end result (I think) is that I got to eat some popcorn to supplement my breakfast, got a can of pop to supplement my lunch, ordered a cap and gown, and requested an extra ticket so that my whole family can come to the ceremony - which will be another exciting event, involving sitting through long, boring fascinating speeches, waiting for people you don't even know to get their diplomas, getting to shake the president's hand (I think), etc.

It's so exciting.

[Update: Insignificant undergraduates don't get to shake the president's hand.  And it doesn't pay to be conscientious about going through the correct process to request tickets: you don't get them anyways, because anyone who has extra tickets is selling them to the people who don't follow the rules. *sigh*]

Helen Keller on Exams

"But the examinations are the chief bugbears of my college life.  Although I have faced them many times and cast them down and made them bite the dust, yet they rise again and menace me with pale looks, until like Bob Acres I feel my courage oozing out at my finger ends.  The days before these ordeals take place are spent in cramming your mind with mystic formulae and indigestible dates - unpalatable diets, until you wish that books and science and you were buried in the depths of the sea.

"At last the dreaded hour arrives, and you are a favored being indeed if you feel prepared, and are able at the right time to call to your standard thoughts that will aid you in that supreme effort.  It happens too often that your trumpet call is unheeded.  It is most perplexing and exasperating that just at the moment when you need your memory and a nice sense of discrimination, these faculties take to themselves wings and fly away.  The facts you have garnered with such infinite trouble invariably fail you at a pinch.

"'Give a brief account of Huss and his work.'  Huss?  Who was he and what did he do?  The name looks strangely familiar.  You ransack your budget of historic facts much as you would hunt for a bit of silk in a rag-bag.  You are sure it is somewhere in your mind near the top - you saw it there the other day when you were looking up the beginnings of the Reformation.  But where is it now?  You fish out all manner of odds and ends of knowledge - revolutions, schisms, massacres, systems of governments; but Huss - where is he?  You are amazed at all the things you know which are not on the examination paper.  In desperation, you seize the budget and dump everything out, and there in a corner is your man, serenely brooding on his own private thought, unconscious of the catastrophe which he has brought upon you.

"Just then the proctor informs you that the time is up.  With a feeling of intense disgust you kick the mass of rubbish into a corner and go home, your head full of revolutionary schemes to abolish the divine right of professors to ask questions without the consent of the questioned."

~ Helen Keller, in "The Story of My Life" ~