Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Beloved by Tenth Avenue North

Love of my life
Look deep in my eyes
There you will find what you need
Give me your life
Lust and the lies
The past you're afraid I might see
You've been running away from me

You're my beloved
Lover I'm yours
Death shall not part us
It's you I died for
For better or worse
Forever we'll be
Our Love it unites us
It binds you to me
It's a mystery

Love of my life
Look deep in my eyes
There you will find what you need
I'm the giver of life
I'll clothe you in white
My immaculate bride you will be
Oh come running home to me yeah *now*

You're my beloved
Lover I'm yours
and Death shall not part us
It's you I died for
For better or worse
Forever we'll be
Our Love it unites us
Find More lyrics at
and it binds you to me yea now now

Well you've been a mistress, my wife
Chasing lovers it won't satisfy
Won't you let me make you my bride
You will drink of my lips
And**taste new life

You're my beloved
Lover I'm yours
Death shall not part us
It's you I died for
For better or worse
Forever we'll be
Our Love it unites us
it binds you to me

You're my beloved
Forever we'll be
Our love it unites us
And it binds you to me
It's a mystery

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Amazing ! Beth Moore's story ....

Be sure to read Beth Moore's post today from her LPM blog. We prayed for her healing at the Deeper Still Conference in Oklahoma City thinking she had a herniated disk. Little did we know that she was to be scheduled for surgery at M.D. Anderson in Houston with a diagnosis of possible ovarian cancer.

Here's the link:

Friday, December 18, 2009

I Will Not Be Moved by Natalie Grant

I have been the wayward child
I have acted out
I have questioned Sovereignty
And had my share of doubt
And though sometimes my prayers feel like
They're bouncing off the sky
The hand I hold won't let me go
And is the reason why...

I will stumble
I will fall down
But I will not be moved
I will make mistakes
I will face heartache
But I will not be moved
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
I will not be moved

Bitterness has plagued my heart
Many times before
My life has been like broken glass
And I have kept the score
Of all my shattered dreams and though it seemed
That I was far too gone
My brokenness helped me to see
It's grace I'm standing on

I will stumble
I will fall down
But I will not be moved
I will make mistakes
I will face heartache
But I will not be moved
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
I will not be moved

And the chaos in my life
Has been a badge I've worn
Though I have been torn
I will not be moved

I will stumble
I will fall down
But I will not be moved
I will make mistakes
I will face heartache
But I will not be moved
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
I will not be moved

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Teaching with Technology Course Reflection

Video produced and narrated by Andy Comer

The outcomes I had envisioned for this course were to get a better understanding of what it meant to truly integrate technology into the classroom. I had hoped to continue to explore using Web 2.0 tools and I did have many opportunities to do that as well. By using Google docs and the Google site for our group project, I was able to compare this resource with using the Wikispaces site that was created in our first course. I felt that the Google site was much more user friendly and had alot more tools to offer in working with groups. I was challenged to work outside my comfort zone by having to create a lesson plan but having the encouragement of my group helped me do what I needed to do. I also learned to use Animoto to create a sample learning activity which is another Web 2.0 tool that was shared with me by the members of my group.

Learning about using Web 2.0 tools, lesson planning, group collaboration and dynamics, the importance of reflective thinking, and providing feedback and assessment are all very relevant to the work that I do now. In counseling and advising students, I can see the need to provide more opportunities for group interraction, feedback, and assessment. It is important that I continue to develop a greater awareness of the Web 2.0 tools in order to provide resources to meet the needs of the students and to better prepare them for the 21st century. The insights I gained from working in a group will better prepare me to assist my students in developing their collaboration skills and increasing their self-esteem. I will continue to encourage my students to work on their reflective thinking skills by posting on our group blog and will create opportunities to provide feedback and recognition in order to motivate them toward the goal of academic success.

I think I would have enjoyed spending additional time exploring techology activities for diverse learners. Since I have a child with a physical disability, I am familiar with some of the learning aids and tools that are available to meet his needs, but I am not familiar with those applications that are commonly used for the hearing and visually impaired students. I felt that the two textbooks that were required for the course are excellent resource tools and I plan to spend more time researching and using some of the ideas that I discovered in them. Possibly I would have had more time to explore these applications if it had not been for the holiday or if more attention could have been provided to this area in a video for the course. Working with the group tremendously enhanced the learning process but the necessary time spent in interacting with the other group members limited the amount of time I had to read articles or research the new concepts and ideas.

Although there was a holiday weekend and I had also scheduled another trip out of town during this course, I feel that I was successful in completing the course assignments. I was able to take my laptop with me and complete reading assignments as I traveled which allowed me to stay on track. Being able to communicate with my group via email and the Google site allowed me to continue working with little interruption while staying in my hotel room. I was also able to get email updates through my cell phone. I felt that an increased level of feedback and assessment could possibly have aided the group in determining our continued direction or any changes that were needed each week. Since I do not have a degree or background in Education I became discouraged early in the group project because I felt that I did not have the knowledge and understanding necessary to successfully create a lesson plan. Although my team members were very helpful and encouraging to me in the process.

A couple of new things that I learned about myself from this course were the importance and value of developing strong reflective thinking and group collaboration skills. I have come to see how using the class discussion board, writing on our blogs and wikis, and completing our group and individual reflection assignments enhances the learning process. Reading about and creating learning communities and working collaboratively in a group has made me a true believer in the importance of using these methods in working with students. What I learned about my technology skills was that I am not afraid of learning and using new technology tools and am willing to assist others in using tools that are unfamiliar to them. Something I learned about my leadership skills is that I have a tendency to take on a leadership role at times even when I am not in an assigned role of leadership. I approached the project with a positive attitude but quickly began to feel a small level of frustration by by being in a situation where I had to depend on others and not feeling "in control" of the outcome. One thing I learned about my attitude was that I although I was reluctant at first about the idea of working in a group, I discovered that I actually enjoyed the group interaction and collaboration and the opportunity to get to know people better.

Our Group Project -

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reflecting on Reflective Thinking

From my textbook reading today in Web 2.0 New Tools, New Schools I ran across a quote from David Tosh who developed the Elgg program in 2004, an e-portfolio system (see The reading states that "this tool was designed to promote reflective thinking, allow users to select artifacts important to them, promote social connections, and focus on the process of learning rather than the end products."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Smarter than the Smartest Person

"Next will be schooling that stresses the ability to solve problems, but not just to solve problems, but to be able to do it collaboratively so that you can work in a group where the group is smarter than the smartest person in the group, and also where you can innovate with the tools you've learned and not just do standard solutions to problems." (nd). Big thinkers: James Paul Gee on grading with games. Retrieved on 12/14/09 from

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Deeper Still Women's Conference 2009

DeeperStill Oklahoma City from Rich Kalonick on Vimeo.

I have recorded my notes below from the Deeper Still Conference. This conference had a huge impact on the ladies who attended. As for me, what I experienced at the conference was nothing short of a personal close encounter with God.
Session Three
Spiritual Discernment - Beth Moore
Key Scriptures - John 14:15-26; I Cor. 2:6-16
Beth began by sharing the fact that she had recently met a woman who was a holocaust survivor who had a tremendous testimony and had even written a book about her experience. Beth befriended her and even used her as an illustration many times in her messages. The lady wanted Beth to baptize her but being a Baptist, Beth would not agree but did agree to go down in the baptismal waters with the woman. Later Beth discovered that the woman's story was all a hoax! She had made up the whole thing! When they learned of the truth, one of her staff commented "We've been punked!!!" which illicited roaring laughter from the audience. So Beth posed the question to us "Have you ever been punked?" and "How do you know when you have been lied to?" She asked "When was the last time you believed something you shouldn't have or accepted something as the truth that was not?"
She went on to state the fact that spiritual discernment can save you from bad relationships and the importance of keeping our friendships free from entanglement. She said we need to learn to "go with our spiritual gut" and provided 4 questions to ask yourself so you can know when to go with your spiritual gut. If you can truthfully answer "no" to each of these questions, then you need to say "yes" to what your spiritual gut is telling you. II Timothy 3:1-5
1. Am I a critical or suspicious person by nature? Do I have trust issues anyway? Can I trust what I am sensing?
2. Am I jealous or do I feel threatened? A person who is jealous finds something wrong with a person right off the bat.
3. Do I have anything selfish to gain from this? from being right? from the outcome? People with the gift of discernment can be the most critical people ever. They need to be right about someone else's wrong.
4. Are my emotions clouding my discernment? We get emotionally entangled and we can't see truth from a lie. God is not calling us to love blindly.
Beth said, speaking to women, that we get emotionally entangled in relationships with women and men. She said "some of you have been best friends with someone for 15 years and you don't even like this person!" Then she made a very bold statement when she said that "someone sitting in this room is in a romantic relationship where someone is lying to you." She went on to state that we would rather be lied to than to be alone and that we are too busy to stop and listen to God. II Timothy 3:13
Next Beth shared 4 steps to take if we discern something is not what it seems.
1. Run - II Tim. 3:5 - Have nothing to do with them. Nothing is more dangerous than someone who has some form of godliness but no power. We were made for relationship and are meant to be connected to a local body of believers. She mentioned that she doesn't like "hyper-spiritual" people who don't go to church. She went on to say that in any relationship that takes on strong sexual overtones, besides your spouse, RUN.
2. Take a step back. Watch over your heart with all diligence.
3. Ask questions. Possibly confront the person, but don't do it over the phone or by email or text. Look them in the eye. Make sure they know you are on to them. Love them, but speak the truth.
4. Learn to love with your eyes wide open. The Holy Spirit may be saying "Get back, get back, get back!" We must learn to listen to our spiritual gut. You may not be able to explain it, you just may have to accept it. Humbly accept when God is telling you to retreat.
Priscilla Shirer
Session Two -
Key Scripture - Ephesians 3:20-21
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. "
1. The Timing - Now is the time to consider the greatness of God. Now is the time to connect God's ability with your immpossibility. Paul's "now" was less than he would like for it to be. He was in prison. This was a "prison doxology". He worshipped God in the midst of an impossible situation.
2. The Turning - We become discouraged and we stop praying. We need to shift our attention to God. In Numbers 13, there were 12 spies that went into the promised land, but only 2 spies were willing to see God through the difficulties.
3. The Truth - God is able to do it! He does not change. The original word here is "dunamis" where we get our word "dynomite". God has dynamite power. Dynamite changes the structure of things. Power is not something that God has but is who he is! God is able to do FOR you. The disciples walked and talked with Jesus but yet still did not trust him.
4. The Transcendency - God does way beyond what we can imagine. "Hyper" is a super-superlative word and makes another word like a word on steriods. Paul says "hyper" twice - meaning "beyond beyond". Here Priscilla gave the illustration of a woman who was hoping just to get a card from her husband on her birthday. She was not expecting much, and was pleased that he gave a card and an umbrella. Then he tells her that she is going to need the umbrella because he hears it rains alot in Paris!!! He went "beyond beyond" what she was expecting. That is how God is with us. He goes "beyond beyond" all that we could ask or even think.
Here Priscilla provided another illustration of how we should not limit God to only what our mind can concieve. She gave an example of some boxes and had 2 women come up and hold the boxes in front of them. She said that there are things that we tend to put in our boxes such as: what our denomination has taught us, what our parents believe about God, the testimonies of others, and our past experiences. Then we put the lid on the box. We assume that anything outside the box is not of God. But God wants us to allow him to build on our box. He has so much more in store for us that goes "beyond beyond" our imagination.
5. The Totality - This means all. What concerns me, concerns Him. Why do we waste time going to everyone else, when God is the only one who can do something about it?
6. The Turbo Power - Because of the Holy Spirit, the greatness of God lives inside of me. We have to yield ourselves to or cooperate with the Holy Spirit in order to see God's turbo power at work in our lives. The power is available but is not being used.
7. Our Tribute - To him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, forever!
I went to this conference seeking some answers to another issue I was struggling with in my life. I initially thought that God failed to provide the answer but instead directed my attention to another area that He felt needed some intense work. After reviewing my notes from all 3 speakers (Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore), I now understand that woven throughout the conference He was trying to remind me of some very important Biblical truths for my life. Here is what I discovered:
1. I need to listen to Jesus and His word.
2. I need to pay more careful attention to what I have heard so that I do not drift away. Hebrews 2:1
3. I need to fear the face of God and not the face of man. (God's face represents his favor.)
4. I need to shift my attention to God and consider His greatness and power.
5. I need to let him build on my box and recognize that he wants to do "beyond beyond" all that I can imagine.
6. I need to learn to listen to my "spiritual gut" and not let emotions cloud my judgement.
7. I need to learn to love with my eyes wide open.

Lesson Builder Planning Tool

We had four assignments to complete this week for my Teaching with Techonology class. In one assignment I had to create a lesson plan using the Lesson Builder tool from the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) web site. Our class practiced using the CAST Universal Design for Learning (UDL) site to learn new ways to apply UDL principles to reach and engage all students. We also experimented with using UDL for student-centered learning as a way to teach with technology by creating a sample electronic book using the Book Builder software which is also available through the CAST web site.

When I first started this project, I was very intimidated by the fact that my team members were all teachers. I had never had any experience writing lesson plans. Even one of my team members stated that writing the lesson plan was very challenging to her. Ususally I have no trouble following a set format, but this assignment seemed to loom before me as an insurmountable task. I have worried about getting it done all week!

I began the assignment last week and spent a couple of hours perusing the CAST web site and viewing examples of lesson plans. I began to use the Lesson Builder tool although I did not find the CAST site to be user-friendly. I spent some time doing a little research online to find some activity ideas to help me create the lesson. Then last night I spent another 2 1/2 hours completing the lesson plan. I decided that I must approach this project the same way you eat an elephant, one bite at a time.

After I thought I had finished the assignment, I began to review the rubric to make sure I had included everything and sure enough, something was missing, so I had to go back in and make some additions. I am not certain as to what sort of grade I am going to make on this assignment but I felt good about the fact that I was able to complete it and have something to contribute toward our team project.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Psalm 51

Generous in love - God, give grace! Huge in mercy - wipe out my bad record. Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry. I know how bad I've been; my sins are staring me down.
You're the One I've violated, and you've seen it all, seen the full extent of my evil. You have all the facts before you; whatever you decide about me is fair.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Speaking the "Language" of Technology

In my Teaching with Technology class this week I read the following quote, "It is essential that teachers design a quality lesson plan first and then select the most appropriate technologies to support that lesson."
Pitler,H., Hubbell, E., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. p. 217

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Alive Again by Matt Maher

I woke up in darkness surrounded by silence
Oh where, where have I gone?
I woke to reality losing it's grip on me
Oh where, where have I gone?

'Cause I can see the light before I see the sunrise

You called and you shouted
Broke through my deafness
Now I'm breathing in and breathing out
I'm alive again

You shattered my darkness
Washed away my blindness
Now I'm breathing in and breathing out
I'm alive again

Late have I loved you
You waited for me
I searched for You
What took me so long?

I was looking outside
As if love would ever want to hide
I'm finding I was wrong

'Cause I could feel the wind before it hits my skin

You called and you shouted
Broke through my deafness
Now I'm breathing in and breathing out
I'm alive again

You shattered my darkness
Washed away my blindness
Now I'm breathing in and breathing out
I'm alive again

'Cause I want you, yes I want you, I need you
And I'll do whatever I have to just to get through
'Cause I love you, yeah, I love you

You called and you shouted
Broke through my deafness
Now I'm breathing in and breathing out
I'm alive again

You shattered my darkness
Washed away my blindness
Now I'm breathing in and breathing out
I'm alive again

Monday, November 30, 2009

He Is by Mark Schultz

Father let the world just fade away
Let me feel your presence in this place
Lord I've never been so weary
How I need to know you're near me
Father let the world just fade away
'Til I'm on my knees
'Til my heart can sing

He is, He was, He always will be
He lives, He loves, He's always with me
Even when it feels like there is no one holding me
Be still my soul
He is

Father let your holy spirit sing
Let it calm the storms inside of me
As I stand amazed
Lift my hands and say

He is, He was, He always will be
He lives, He loves, He's always with me
Even when it feels like there is no one holding me
Be still my soul

Through every fear
And every doubt
In every tear I shed
Down every road
I'm not alone
No Matter where I am

He is, He was, He always will be
He lives, He loves, He always will be
Even when it feels like there is no one holding me
Be still my soul
Be still and know
Be still my soul
He is

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

This Thanksgiving I am most thankful for the dear sweet family God has given us! Jack and I were blessed to have everyone at home with us on Thanksgiving Day and then we traveled to Teague for a family reunion with the Comers on Saturday. This huge tree stood outside the Family Life Center of the First Baptist Church of Teague. His aunt told us the tree was a source of heated discussion when the building was constructed because some wanted to cut it down. It was decided to preserve the tree and the building was built a little further back. She told us that everyone likes to take pictures by the tree, which is also something we could not resist. We took lots and lots of family pictures there yesterday. It seems like the tree, so big and old, stands as a symbol of stability and strength, a quality all families should strive to have.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Effects of Technology on Non-traditional Students

Today I read an article from the Journal of Research on Technology in Education entitled "Technology-enriched Classrooms: Effects on students of low socioeconomic status." I ran across a statement which read "Although a clear justification for including technology in American classrooms is at least arguable, a stronger case might be made for inclusion among learners with special needs. Computers appear to be especially productive with children designated as nontraditional."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Devotion by Newsboys

All my world
All I've lost
The wrecks I've made here
The lives it cost
Your hand restores
Your words make whole
With all my soul
I thank You
I owe You

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Teaching With Technology Web Conference

I just started a new course this week for my master's degree program at Lamar. I am already enjoying it immensely and haven't even submitted my first assignment yet. This week, in preparation for our study, we were given two opportunities to attend online web conferences. A co-worker and I stayed after work for the first one because it was scheduled for 5 o'clock. The one today, Saturday, started at 11 a.m. and each lasts for about an hour. The one today had the best attendance of any I have attended with about 21 students participating.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Here With Me by Mercy Me

To hear this video be sure to turn off the playlist located at the bottom of this blog.

Here With Me Lyrics
I long for your embrace
Every single day
To meet you in this place
And see you face to face

Will you show me?
Reveal yourself to me
Because of your mercy
I fall down on my knees

And I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I'm lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

You're everywhere I go
I am not alone
You call me as your own
To know you and be known

You are holy
And I fall down on my knees

I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I'm lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

I surrender to your grace
I surrender to the one who took my place

I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I'm lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender:

I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I'm lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Look at Life in Orange County Texas

Vicissitudes of Life in Small Texas Town Are More Than Just Good Column Fodder By John Kelly Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I spent last week at Texas A&M University , mentoring 22 journalism students in the basics of my job. Their assignment: to write a column. As an incentive, I told them I'd publish my favorite in The Post. Many of their columns exhibited similar preoccupations: relationships, technology, anxiety over their futures (most don't have jobs yet). One column stood out. Krista Smith is a 22-year-old graduating senior from a southeast Texas town that, as you'll see, has had its share of woe. Speaking of woe: A lot of us worry about the future of journalism. Students such as Krista make me worry a little bit less. * * *

That's the number of times that Annette Bonnin -- my Aunt Nette -- has rebuilt her home in the last three years. That's the number of times she's sorted through her belongings, salvaging what she can before tossing the rest into the front yard for the disaster cleanup crews and scavengers to collect.
It's the number of times she's haggled with her insurance company, fighting for a few extra dollars that still won't be enough to return her home to the way it remains in her memories. It's the number of times she's applied for federal aid, either asking for a temporary home or requesting funds to finance her displacement costs.

Life goes on elsewhere, but for Aunt Nette and other residents of Orange , Texas , it is frozen in a cycle of waiting and frustration. The quirky city on the Texas-Louisiana border (the first taste of Texas or the last, depending on which way you're headed) claims to have 18,000 residents, though the population has undoubtedly shrunk since the last census.

Under normal circumstances, Orange would be yet another small Texas community that survived for decades amid the booms and busts of the lumber, shipping and, most recently, chemical industries. But these aren't normal circumstances. After all, there aren't too many communities that have endured the wrath of two major hurricanes in the past three years and bounced back quite like Orange . Sure, with the city situated near the Gulf coast, the threat of a hurricane is always present.

Hurricanes and preparing for them are a part of life on the coast. Residents know the drill: Stockpile bottled water, canned goods, flashlights, batteries, a generator (if you're lucky enough to have one) and the hurricane tracking chart that shows up in the grocery stores during the summer. And the preparation is not done in vain, as Orange has weathered countless tropical storms and depressions over the years. But even though the threat exists and even though they're on alert, residents never expected the landscape of their coastal community to turn against them. Because Orange is home. It is my home, my parents' home, my Aunt Nette's home, my grandparents and great-grandparents' homes. Mother Nature may terrorize us, but still we stay.

In September of 2005 it was the trees. The oaks, pines and sweet gums that shaded the city's streets were no match for Hurricane Rita's winds. They came crashing down in the living rooms, kitchens and garages of hundreds of homes. Rita, who rode in on the coattails of Hurricane Katrina, was the first major hurricane that directly impacted Orange in nearly 50 years. For the first time, the hurricane waiting game began: waiting, in shelters and hotel rooms, for the all-clear signal to return home. Waiting in a distribution line for ice and bottled water. Waiting on housing and financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And later, waiting for the visits from the insurance adjusters, FEMA inspectors and building contractors.

In September 2008, the weathermen warned again: Hurricane Ike was streaking across the Gulf of Mexico . Orange battened the hatches; Ike wasn't our first rodeo, and he won't be the last. But no two storms are alike, and Ike didn't let us off easy. The trees, for the most part, stood tall this go around. It was the Sabine River and the bayou tributaries that weave through the city that struck this time, rising higher than we had ever seen. When the brackish, contaminated waters receded, downtown homes and businesses were full of marsh grasses, debris and -- perhaps worst of all -- dead fish.

You wouldn't think it, but Orange is thriving. Despite recent layoffs at the local chemical plants, workers are in high demand. Dozens and dozens of homes still need to be rebuilt. New businesses, including several hotels, are going up along the interstate. The city's cultural attractions are blossoming, too.

But not all is well in Orange . Hurricanes, like most natural disasters, catch the eye of the media for a day or two, maybe more if it's a slow news day. Then the news moves on. The hurricane aftermath doesn't. It lies in piles and rots in the streets, waiting to be cleared. More than seven months after Ike, my Aunt Nette is still living in her FEMA-issued travel trailer, a trailer she waited on for three months. Hundreds of Orange residents are in similar predicaments, living out of boxes. Still waiting on someone, something, anything. But we are proud -- proud of our city, our home and everything it has to offer. That's why we rebuild, why we come back. Our patience is a virtue, one that has made Orange , Texas , that much sweeter.

Monday, November 16, 2009

View from the Bridge

Every morning on my way to work, around 7:30 a.m. I travel over the Rainbow Bridge that extends from Bridge City to Pt. Arthur. Every afternoon, I return the same way and travel over the Veteran's Memorial Bridge which extends from Pt. Arthur to Bridge City. People driving around me are usually either on their way to work or on their way home as well. As you can imagine, they drive fast and furious to get home or wherever they are going. Sometimes I wonder as we travel over the same bridge if they see the same view I see or if they miss it altogether.

Every morning there is a gorgeous view of the sunrise and every afternoon a beautiful sunset that greets me as I travel over the bridge. The sun shining and reflecting its rays across the water makes it even more wonderful to see. Many times the view is so spectacular that I thank God for painting the sky in the way that he does. It is never the same. It makes me want to stop, get out of my car, and pause to take a picture, which of course is quite impossible. If I stopped on the bridge someone would think I was getting ready to jump off the bridge and traffic would be backed up for miles. Yes, it happens on rare occasions, I am sad to say.

This morning as I was driving in to work, I thought about my view from the bridge. It's a constant daily reminder to me of God's presence in my life. He greets me each morning with the sunrise and he welcomes me home at night with the sunset. Even when there are clouds, the sun breaking through with that silver lining effect is a glorious reminder of what is waiting for me one day when I leave this earth.

I think the view from the bridge is wonderful because of the height of the bridge itself. The bridges are the largest and highest bridges in our area which helps me to get a different perspective on the world I live in. This reminds me of the importance of seeing life from God's point of view. Seeing my life and circumstances from His point of view changes my perspective and gives me renewed hope at just the time I need it.

When I am traveling across the bridge, it is only for a short piece, it's a temporary state of being. In the same way, my travels through this life are also temporary, just a short while and I will reach my final destination.

I love my view from the bridge. Knowing that I have something to look forward to makes the long drive to and from work every day a little easier. The view from the bridge gives me peace in the knowledge that God is still in control as he daily continues to paint the sky with wondrous beauty as only he can do. Thanks God for my view from the bridge.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Social Networking Changes the Way We Work Together

Last night I read an article for my Teaching with Technology class by Dallas McPheeters entitled Social Networking Technologies in Education. He stated that "Social networking sites offer the tools to level the playing field from the old hierarchal, top-down structure of the corporate era to the new, horizontal, and collaborative structure taking form on the world wide web."

The article as a whole had some very exciting an interesting concepts, but I agree with the author and can see the changes he was speaking of occuring in the workplace and on the college campus. There is a much greater need today for employees and students to be skilled and capable of working in teams than ever before.

I see college students who struggle with working in groups or simply maintaining good open communication with their instructors. Those who are able to navigate well using email, or social networking sites, are more engaged and connected and are better able to utilize the resources provided to them.

Being cognizant of and having the ability to implement new ideas for networking with team members to accomplish the task at hand, gives employees an added advantage in the workplace, which in today's economy is critical.

I also think that the collaborative structure that McPheeters talks about is also a good example of the constructivism theory of learning, because it enables one person to build on the knowledge of another.

McPheeters also states that "social networks are a defining characteristic used to describe the advent of Web 2.0 as the transition from the web as a static tool of document storage to an interactive network inviting collaboration on all levels." This says to me that Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace have a much greater purpose than the social and entertainment value they provide, they have actually changed the way people interact and work together.

We recently started using facebook in our program in working with adult college students. We started by using a group page to announce workshops, events, and links of interest to students. I have gradually moved toward inviting students to be my "friends" on my personal page. Some advisors have a professional page versus allowing students access to their private page.

Personally, I feel that students need good role models to set a positive example in order to effectively use social networking tools. Since befriending my students in this way, it allows me to see not only what their interests are, but also areas in which they may be struggling. We also use a blog site, email of course, and we have done mass text messages to a group of students to send them notifications about an upcoming event or deadline.

Recently, we were receiving progress reports from professors and I did an IM chat with a student and asked how she thought she was doing in math. She said it was getting harder. When I informed her that the professor reported she had a 73 average, she said she thought her grade was much higher and agreed that she might benefit from some extra tutoring help. She was in my office the next day to sign up for tutorials. The non-intimidating nature of our initial conversation allowed me to provide some necessary intervention to get the student moving in the right direction. Since using these online tools, I have experienced an increase in communication with students as opposed to the traditional methods of using only the phone and emails to contact them.

The discussion board posts above generated the most replies I have ever received (17) since starting my coursework! Below is my Final Word.

Thank you all for your comments and replies. I enjoyed reading each one. Here is my final summary to wrap up this discussion which seems to have generated a great deal of interest.

1. Social networking technology has changed the web and the way people interact and work together.
2. For the most part, school districts and teachers either do not see the value of using social networking tools or are very limited in what they can use.
3. Teachers are using alternative methods to network and collaborate such as wikis, blogs, and class websites.
4. Students need to be educated to be responsible users of social networking technology.
5. Students who effectively use social networking tools appear to be better communicators with the world they live in.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My first experiences in Second Life

As a part of my class assignment for my Graphic Design course, I had to create and avatar and learn to write a script in Second Life, an online 3D animated virtual world. The following is the reflection I wrote on my initial experiences in the new world.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Growing Up With Giants

It wasn’t easy living with giants. Like Jack, who planted the magic beans and scaled the stalk up into the sky and the land of giants, I found myself surrounded by beings that towered over me. Unlike him, my experience wasn’t a fable.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

You Found Me

I saw three AM come and go again
Another sleepless night, thanks to living my own way
All my great ideas, I've regretted most of them
But that was back long before the day

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Words I Would Say

This song by Sidewalk Prophets is really a prayer and a reminder to live each day to the fullest and not be afraid to share Christ, because He is love.

Three in the morning, And I'm still awake,
So I picked up a pen and a page,
And I started writing, Just what I'd say,
If we were face to face,
I'd tell you just what you mean to me,
I'd tell you these simple truths,

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I hope we can

I don't usually write about politics, but I had an experience this past week that simply could not go with expressing my thoughts. I was priviledged to be able to attend a conference of the Council for Opportunity in Education in San Antonio. The Council for Opportunity in Education is a nonprofit organization, established in 1981, dedicated to furthering the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the United States. The Council works in conjunction with colleges, universities, and agencies that host TRIO Programs to specifically help low-income students enter college and graduate. The conference is held annually and supports the federal grant funded program which I work for at Lamar University.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Texas needs Tech-savvy Teachers

My blog this week is written as part of an assignment for the course I am currently taking, Fundamentals of Educational Technology. Although my subject was assigned, I would like to preface it by saying that I whole-heartedly believe in the ideas I am proposing or I would not be posting them on my blog page.

The majority of students entering Texas classrooms today are tech-savvy. It is critical that the people entrusted with the task of educating them have the tools they need to adequately prepare them for the future. The state of Texas faces a daunting task of bringing our education system up to speed to meet the needs of this new generation.

It is critical that Texas educators be provided ongoing professional development. In order for effective changes to be implemented, teachers must also become learners and have ongoing opportunities for exposure to new ways of incorporating technology into the curriculum and classroom.

In order to achieve this goal, all beginning teachers are now required to meet Technology Applications educator standards. Veteran teachers receive ongoing professional development and over time are expected to master the SBEC Technology Applications Standards for all teachers.

The Texas Long-Range Plan for Technology 2006 - 2020 includes the following standards for Educator Preparation and Development.
"All educators are required to:
• graduate from an educator preparation program that models current technology in instructional and administrative practices PreK-12.
• exit educator preparation programs knowing how to use technology effectively in the teaching-learning process as demonstrated by the SBEC Technology Applications Standards.
• develop new learning environments that utilize technology as a flexible tool where learning is collaborative, interactive and customized for the individual learner.
• ensure full integration of appropriate technology throughout all curriculum and instruction."

Long-Range Plan for Technology, 2006-2020 (2006, November). Retrieved Sept. 2, 2009, from
The task of preparing educators to meet the needs of students in the 21st Century also presents educational institutions with a tremendous challenge. Educator training programs must include new ways to teach that will positively impact the academic achievement levels of their students. Professional development for veteran teachers must emphasize the continual process of learning about technology and incorporating its use in the classroom. If teachers and administrators are to prepare today’s students for the world they will live in tomorrow, they must have the tools, knowledge, and skills they need to make significant changes in our educational system.

Monday, August 24, 2009

For the Women .... Are you a Mary or a Martha?

Every church desperately needs some Marys. We need them to pray for our children, to put passion in our worship, to write songs of praise and sing songs of glory, to kneel and weep and lift their hands and pray. We need them because we tend to forget how much God loves worship. Marys do not forget! To sit at his feet and spend time with Him.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Where my treasure is

When I turned 12 my parents wanted me to participate in a fraternal type organization designed for young women. I guess you could compare it to a sorority because you had to be voted on to get in, the meetings were held in secret, only open to the members, and dues were required. We even had a secret password and handshake! Woo-hoo! As a part of this organization, I would be able to learn some things that I am sure they felt were important for a young woman to learn. I would have the opportunity to participate in service projects, hold positions of leadership, be taught certain disciplines, have good role models, and my personal favorite, wear formal dresses.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Saturday, August 8, 2009

God's love letter

Twice in the last couple of weeks I have had people tell me that when they tried to read the Bible they just opened it randomly and started reading wherever their eyes landed. They both reported that what they read either did not make sense to them or they didn't like what it said. I have heard this type of Bible reading referred to as the "lucky dip" method and there was a great story behind it which illustrated why using this method is not always the best idea. So I began to research online to see if could find the illustration. The following text is quoted from a website from the Middletown Bible Church, Middletown, Connecticut.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Appreciating God's handiwork

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Monday, August 3, 2009

What really matters

Another volunteer team arrived today, almost 11 mos. since Hurricane Ike wreaked it's havoc on the little town of Bridge City, population 8651. One of the sponsors who was also from Texas told me that she had not heard about what had happened in our town. I told her about the fact that there were 3400 homes in Bridge City and only 14 were spared from the flooding. With eyes wide she replied "I had no idea!" She was amazed to hear our story as well as the college students who were volunteering their energy. The team only spent one afternoon at the church, but accomplished a great deal. There were about 35 in the group, so if you multiply that by the number of hours they spent working, that equals ALOT of volunteer hours. Over and over we heard, "Thanks for letting us come!" and "We are glad to help do whatever we can." One of them wanted to get a contact number so he could arrange another team to come back and work again. What a blessing!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Praise You in this Storm by Casting Crowns

July 28, 2009

1. Storms are not necessarily a means of God’s judgment on the wicked.
Job 21:18 Job says the wicked are not carried away by the storm like chaff, even though it seems as though they deserve God’s judgment. Evil people are often spared during times of calamity and allowed to escape disaster.

2. The worst storm is yet to come and will result in total destruction.
Job 27:21 Job says the ultimate fate of the wicked is to be carried off and swept away by the east wind, total destruction and loss of everything.

3. The source of the storm may be generated by the enemy.
Psalm 55: 8 David longed to escape from the oppression he was experiencing from his enemy.

4. Storms can be a used by God to bring us into submission to his will.
Ps. 83:15 Asaph wrote a song asking God to pursue or chase his enemies and terrify them by sending a storm.

5. Storms provide an example of God’s control of nature.
Ps 107:29 The psalmist says that sailors have witnessed and know that the winds and the waters of the deep respond to God’s commands.

6. God provides a place of refuge for his people from the storm.
Is 4:6 Isaiah predicted a time of restoration when God would provide a shelter and a hiding place for Israel.

7. God is our refuge from the storm.
Is 25:4 The oppressive acts of ruthless people are like a storm beating against a wall, but God is our refuge from the storm.

8. God brings destruction like a storm.
Is 28:2; Is 29:6; Ezek 38:9

9. God demonstrates his power in the storm.
Nah 1:3

10. Storms obey the voice of the Savior.
Mark 4:37

11. Storms provide an opportunity for us to demonstrate faith.
Luke 8:23

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My life without Christ

I see now more than ever what my life would be like without Christ. I was saved at a young age. It was on a Thursday, June 9th, the summer before I turned nine. It was during Vacation Bible School and our Pastor brought an object lesson where he took a clean clear glass of water and put a drop in it and the water turned black to illustrate sin and the effect it has on our lives. Then he put in another drop of something and turned the water red to represent the blood that Jesus shed to cleanse us from sin.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The desires of my heart

You know if someone would have told me a year ago that by the fall of 2009 I would be going back to school, I never would have believed it. Today I received my pre-acceptance letter to the Master's program at Lamar University. It has been a dream of mine ever since we moved to Bridge City, to return to school and further my education. About 14 years ago, I was a stay at home mom (for a brief time) and I remember going over to Lamar and talking to someone about going back to school. At the time I was not really sure what I wanted to do, but I remember coming away very discouraged because basically I was told I would have to either get a second Bachelor's degree or take another year's worth of courses before I could move forward toward a Master's. So since I still had 4 kids in school, I gave up the idea, thinking well maybe some day.

Well, now it looks like "some day" is well within my reach. Just goes to show you should never give up pursuing your dreams. In fact, as I reflect on the past year I have seen so many dreams come true in my life. Looking back it is easy to focus on the many losses that I have experienced, but in reality, I have been so blessed beyond imagination.

During the past year, I have lost some very close relationships. In August of last year I lost my job. In September we lost our house to the storm, as well as our church. In January, we totally lost our home to the fire. But when you think about it all from God's perpective, and He always sees the beginning and the end at the same time, then you see how He has made my dreams come true.

First, my relationship with God is closer today than it was a year ago and I have found so many friends I never knew I had. I have made many new friends. We have also had several new families join our church.

He gave me a dream job at Lamar. I am now doing the very thing I always dreamed of doing "when I grew up". Counseling and working with children. Yes, the students I work with are children. Most of them are young and in need of direction and guidance. Many of them didn't have parents that attended or completed college. I actually get to be creative at work, which is something that can only be appreciated when you have been put in a situation where all creativity is stifled.

Of course, then there's my house. Every little girl dreams of one day having her "dream house". One of my friends came over and walked into our new master bedroom and said "Don't you just feel like a princess every time you walk in here?" She knows exactly how it feels, to feel like you have found your dream house. A place you feel comfortable to call home.

I've always dreamed of visiting New York City. I'm going in less than 2 weeks. And what's so amazing about that is, my work is sending me. It's not costing me to go there. Amazing!

And then to have the opportunity to go back to school. Well, again it's another dream come true. I used to have an "agenda". I felt the need to succeed and to get ahead in life. That dream is gone. I no longer feel driven to make my dreams happen. Because now I understand that God knows the desires of my heart and He has a way of making all my dreams come true. Psalm 37:4 says "Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." He knows better than I do what is best for me and in His own time, he will pour out His blessings if I will simply remain faithful and committed to Him.

Ephesians 3:20-21 says "God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us."

Don't stop working in me Lord, and thank you for giving me the desires of my heart.

Friday, May 8, 2009

My Big Brother

My brother has known me longer than any other person living on this earth. He knows me pretty well and yet he still loves me. Yes, imagine that! Where most brothers tend to pick on their younger siblings, mine never really did. I think because he was eleven when I was born, and the fact that we have no other siblings, that he was really proud to have me, even if I was a girl! As a matter of fact, he's always seemed a little more partial to girls. He loved his own daughter tremendously, and is now raising his oldest grandaughter who he also adores.

I remember watching home movies of my eleven year old brother carrying me around as a fat little baby. You could see his sense of pride in the fact that he was playing the role of the "big brother". I am told he was the one who first carried me to church. Growing up I always wanted to go wherever he went. Driving to the corner store to buy balogna or going to Burger King on Sunday night after church with his friends.

As the years went by, he graduated from high school about the same time I was starting grade school. He attended college a couple of years before he got married and moved out of our house. Even then, as a young teenager I felt a close attachment to him and wanted to spend all the time I could with him and his wife, having sleepovers at their house or going out to eat with them on Sunday afternoons after church.

My brother and I are alike in a lot of ways and yet different too. He has beautiful handwriting, I on the other hand, do not. He is left-handed like our mother, I am not. He takes his time to think about things and work them through, I tend to be more impulsive and just want to get the job done and move on to something else.

We are alike in the fact that we both delight in sharing pictures, going on new adventures, and working with numbers. We both have a love for the Bible and discussing it's practical application to life. Sometimes I wonder if I learned to appreciate these things from him, or would I have enjoyed these things anyway.

My brother is the type of person who would do anything for you. During my Senior year in high school, he offered for me to come and live with him and his wife during a time that was extremely difficult for me. Our parents were going through a divorce and it seemed only natural that we should be together. He and his wife took care of me during my college years until I found my life mate and was married. Since that time, he also became a brother to my husband who never knew what it was like to have a brother. His wife is like the sister I never had.

I have often thought that if something happened to my husband, I would always have my brother. He would help me get through whatever comes my way. I could never imagine ever being without him to lean on. But the truth is, since he is eleven years older than me, he may not always be there. And since he has had such a tremendous impact on my life, I just want him and everyone else to know that I have the best brother anyone could ever have or ever imagine on this earth. Our relationship, which has lasted over 51 years, is very special and I am so grateful to him for giving me so much and sharing his life and his wife with our family.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

God is good, all the time!

Want to hear something truly amazing! We have a volunteer group that arrived yesterday,(Tuesday) from Shelbyville, Tennessee to work at the church. When we requested the group to come we did not know, and they did not know, what tasks would need to be completed once they arrived on site. On Monday Jack went to pick up the kitchen cabinets from Silsbee. This is one of the last things to be completed in our Family Life Center. The amazing thing is, on Tuesday, Jack found out that these volunteers are experts at installing cabinets, having done this many times on church work projects in the U.S. and in foreign countries. God knew exactly what we needed and then provided. God is SO good!

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19

Sunday, April 19, 2009

At peace with God's plan

It's been a great week! I am finding that I am becoming more and more at peace all the time with God's overall plan for our family. I think the older we get the more difficult it becomes to accept changes in our lives, especially when they are sudden unexpected changes, such as losing a job, a loved one, or losing anything that is precious to you. But the past few months have taught me that I need to be more willing and ready to embrace the changes in my life and trust God to get me through it. Everyone will tell you that "this happened for a reason" and that "God has something better for you", but it's really tough to believe that when you are right in the midst of it all. But once again, I find myself looking back at the events of my life and marveling at God's faithfulness and provision.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Today was a day I have looked forward to for months. I didn't realize that it would occur on Valentine's Day though. Today I had the privelege of shopping for furniture for our new house. My husband said I looked like I had suddenly developed an extreme case of A.D.D. We went to Lake Charles to shop and the drive over there seemed endless. Once we finally arrived at the store, I was so excited and overwhelmed and didn't know where to begin. We ended up shopping for about 2 hours. The fact that there was NO TAX and 15% off didn't help.

My dream for this day actually began about 5 mos. ago, about a week after Hurricane Ike wreaked it's havoc on our house. The day we went in to clean out the house of all the furniture, carpets, etc. That day as we piled everything on our lawn, I began to look forward to the day when I would get to begin replacing the old "stuff" with the new. That's not to say I wasn't mourning our losses, but I knew that it was only "stuff", much of which could eventually be replaced by the "new and improved model".

So as you can imagine, I have really been looking forward to this day.

As we began to drive to Lake Charles, I was thinking "Only God could orchestrate in perfect harmony, the timing of this day, especially for us, as his children." You see, who would have thought 5 months ago in September, that on Valentine's Day, a day when love is celebrated, that I would be holding the keys to a new house and getting to shop for new furniture. It was as if God said to me "Happy Valentine's Day! See I still love you after all. Why do you ever doubt my love for you? This was my plan all along. Only I could arrange such a special Valentine's Day gift just for you." And me? All I could say was "Awesome, you are an awesome God, and I love you too!" Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Blessing through the storms

After Hurricane Rita in 2005 I kept a journal and recorded all the events that occurred during the days following Rita. Good and bad. As we evacuated for Hurricane Ike, for some reason I picked up that journal and took it with us. It was one of the few things we took. We had just evacuated 2 weeks prior for Gustav so we sort of left with the attitude, "hey, we'll be back in a few days, no big deal". Little did we know what we would come back to.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

20 things I hope you never get to experience in life

1. Having to leave your home and not knowing if it will be there when you get back because the area where you live is under a mandatory evacuation.

2. Traveling in the car with your dog and cat at a snail's pace because the traffic is bumper to bumper for 17 hours straight at night during an extreme Texas heat wave. (Sept. 2005)

3. Staying at a relative's house and watching the weather channel and the news to see when and where the hurricane is expected to make landfall.

4. Staying up all night watching Geraldo Rivera get knocked off his feet by the wind and sprayed by the waves on Galveston Beach.

5. Calling your friends to see how high the water is getting now and if it's possible to get to your house.

6. Having your friend tell you to "expect the worst" before you come home.

7. Driving home "expecting the worst" and smelling "the worst" for miles before you get there.

8. Finding your outside cat traumatized under your pick-up truck and buried in soggy marsh reeds.

9. Not being able to open your front door because it's swollen shut and the lock doesn't work from being submerged under water.

10. Finding dead fish and mud in your house or a live alligator in your next door neighbor's yard.

11. Having all your furniture and appliances turned topsy turvy.

12. Climbing over your mattress and feeling it squish even though it's not a water bed.

13. Wearing a mask to clean out your house as you watch the white mold turning to black.

14. Throwing all your earthly belongings, including the love letters your husband wrote you before you married, in the middle of your front yard.

15. Having to watch your children go through all your stuff BEFORE you are dead and gone.

16. Losing 30 years worth of pictures, baby and wedding albums.

17. Tearing out the walls of your house and spraying it with bleach to kill the mold and mildew.

18. Living in a single hotel room with your family of four for more than 2 weeks.

19. Looking for a place to stay close to home and finding NOTHING is available. Absolutely nothing.

20. Getting a call in the middle of the night from a friend saying "I think your house may be on fire."

The list may sound somewhat morbid to some, but I have found writing about my experiences to be somewhat healing. It's all part of a grieving process that we go through. I have been told that anytime we experience a loss we must also take the time to grieve our losses. I am not trying to seek pity here, I only want to share from my heart and remind others to appreciate and enjoy what you have while you have it. I know I am alot more thankful for what God has given me and realize that I can live with alot less "stuff" than all the things I had accumulated over the years. I am thankful that I have my life and a strong family of faith who is so supportive of me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

God shows his sense of humor

In the days and weeks following Hurricane Ike the Lord reminded me how thankful I was to have my daughter Lawren still living at home with us. Losing all her cherished momentos from her schooldays and her bedroom furniture that she picked out the previous Christmas was a real challenge for her as well as the rest of us. She was so patient and ready to help out in any way during those tough times and I really saw her grow and mature tremendously.

After we got settled in our new temporary "home", Lawren seemed to become somewhat withdrawn. We were all beginning to think about building our home again, we had something to look forward to and to hope for better days ahead. I realized that Lawren needed to have something to look forward to as well. So.... since Lawren had never flown before we decided to send her somewhere. Her birthday is in Dec. so combining her birthday and Christmas seemed like a good plan. So ..... where do you want to go, Lawren? New York!!! All right, so we get online and start trying to find out about making a trip to NY. The only way she could possibly go would be if a friend went with her and she had a friend who had made the trip on several occasions so it was decided that the 2 girls would go.

Later, as the actual trip to the airport drew near, I thought "I must have been crazy to ever think she could do this on her own." But this trip was about so much more, it was about achieveing independence, and it was about living out your dreams. And it was about giving a gift to our only daughter who brings so much happiness to our family. Well, now to the sense of humor part...... As Lawren was packing to get ready to leave, she marched in the kitchen and announced "Just so you know ..... if I happen to see Mario Lopez, AND IF he asks me to marry him...... then I am not coming back home ..... just to let you know." We all had a good laugh and off she went to New York. That was on Friday.

On Saturday was Lawren's 22nd birthday. We were at a Lamar basketball game when I get a text message at the same time her dad gets a phone call. It was Lawren. She was at a restaurant in NY and guess who was sitting 4 chairs in front of her? You guessed it! MARIO LOPEZ Needless to say she was beside herself. She was texting me like crazy and saying "OMG, I think I'm about to throw up .... I can't believe it, he's sitting right in front of me." Despite all my encouragement, insisting, coaxing, pleading, she refused to go over to him and ask for a picture. She didn't want him to think she was one of those crazy stalker people. Her friend ordered dessert just so they could stay longer, but Lawren was so mesmerized by Mario that she was glued to her chair. She said "Mom, this is absolutely the best birthday I've ever had!"

Jack and I laughed so much that it made the gift all the more worth it for us. What is funny is the fact that the whole weekend they were in NY they did not see one other celebrity. Only Mario.

You know I think God has a wonderful sense of humor. I would have liked to have taken credit for the Mario sighting, and said, Yes, we planned that for your birthday, but you know I think our heavenly Father should get all the credit for this amazing, funny, memorable, birthday gift to a very special young lady. I am reminded of the verse that says that if we as earthly parents know how to give good gifts to our children, HOW MUCH MORE does our heavenly Father know how to give good gifts to us. We are so blessed.